GEORGE JONES, the hard living, hard lovin’ country music great has died at 81.
Jones passed at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville.
As The ENQUIRER reported previously Jones had been hospitalized with fever and irregular blood pressure, forcing him to postpone two shows.
Jones was born Sept. 12, 1931, in a log cabin house in Texas, the youngest of eight children. He first sang in church and at age 11 began performing for tips on the streets of Beaumont, Tex. But instead of using the money to feed his starving family spent it all at a penny arcade.
"That was my first time to earn money for singing and my first time to blow it afterward," he said in his tell-all memoir "I Lived to Tell it All" "It started what almost became a lifetime trend."
The Jones family lived in a government-subsidized housing project, and his was an alcoholic but he did buy George a Gene Autry guitar that the young warbler practiced with obsessively.
After the first of his four marriages failed, he enlisted in the Marines Corps in 1951 and served three years. After he received his discharge he cut his first disc, called "No Money in This Deal."
He had his first hit with "Why Baby Why" in 1955, and by the early 1960s Jones was one of country's biggest stars.
Jones was married to Tammy Wynette, his third wife, from 1969 to 1975. And their marriage was the stuff of country songs – hard drinkin’, brutal fighin’ and teary reconciliations.
His drug and alcohol abuse grew out of control during the 1970s, so much so that Jones lost everything – filing for bankruptcy in 1978.
A manager got him hooked on cocaine, in an attempt to offset his boozy, laid back lethargy on stage. Jones was arrested in Jackson, Miss., in 1983 on cocaine possession charges. Agreeing to perform a benefit concert, he received six months probation.
"In the 1970s, I was drunk the majority of the time," Jones wrote in his memoir. "If you saw me sober, chances are you saw me asleep."
In 1980, he recorded "He Stopped Loving Her Today". The song took more than a year to record, partly because Jones couldn't master the melody partly because he was too drunk to recite a spoken verse ("She came to see him one last time/And we all wondered if she would/And it kept running through my mind/This time he's over her for good.")
His hits included the sentimental "Who's Gonna Fill Their Shoes," the foot-tapping "The Race is On," the foot-stomping "I Don't Need Your Rockin' Chair," the melancholy "She Thinks I Still Care," the rockin' "White Lightning," and the barfly lament "Still Doing Time."
Jones also recorded several duets with Tammy Wynette, his wife for six years, including "Golden Ring," "Near You," "Southern California" and "We're Gonna Hold On."
Jones won Grammy awards in 1981 for "He Stopped Loving Her Today" and in 1999 for "Choices." He was elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1992.
Jones continued to make tour and release records but hit records were far and few between.
"I don't want to completely quit because I don't know what to do with myself," he said in an interview. "I'll be out there as long as the people want me to be out there."
George may be gone now but his music will live forever.