Still a big fan of real country music, I thought Jones was the best. At first it took awhile to get used to his early, more nasal voice. I remember thinking how Jones' style of sing was so unusual, where he seemed to projected inward every incredible lyric and slurred aside. A nice piece from AP follows this great Hee Haw appearance I recorded off the RFDTV channel:
Jones died Friday at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville. He had been hospitalized with fever and irregular blood pressure, forcing him to postpone two shows.
"If we all could sound like we wanted to, we'd all sound like George Jones," Waylon Jennings once sang. "The greatest voice to ever grace country music will never die," Garth Brooks said in an email to The Associated Press. Ronnie Dunn added: "The greatest country blues singer to ever live."
Jones survived long battles with alcoholism and drug addiction, brawls, accidents and close encounters with death, including bypass surgery and a tour bus crash that he only avoided by deciding at the last moment to take a plane. His failure to appear for concerts left him with the nickname "No Show Jones." He was in the midst of a yearlong farewell tour when he passed away.
Jones was a purist who lamented the transformation of country music from the family feeling of the 1950s to the hit factory of the early 21st century. He was so caught up in country, old country, that when a record company executive suggested he record with James Taylor, Jones insisted he had never heard of the million selling singer-songwriter. He was equally unimpressed when told that Neil Young had come to visit backstage and declined to see him, saying he didn't know who he was. He did listen to the Rolling Stones, only because of the guitar playing of Keith Richards, a country fan who would eventually record with Jones.
Asked about what he thought about Carrie Underwood, Taylor Swift and other young stars, Jones said they were good but they weren't making traditional country music. "What they need to do really, I think, is find their own title," he said.
Jones said in a 1991 AP interview: "My fans and real true country music fans know I'm not a phony. I just sing it the way it is and put feeling in it if I can and try to live the song."
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