His distinctive voice -- a sound that channeled heartache and vulnerability -- was one of the most imitated influences in country music, but now the original is gone.
Country legend George Jones died Friday at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tenn., after being hospitalized with high fever and irregular
He had lived life on the edge for so many years -- building a famous reputation as "No Show Jones" because he missed so many performances in his hard-drinking days of the 1990s -- that the news of his passing left me saddened, but not shocked.
Jones overcame his excesses and continued to tour to the end, offering country music fans a chance to hear timeless classics such as "She Thinks I Still Care" and "He Stopped Loving Her Today" from the man who created them.
He performed in October 2008 at The Venue at
Although he looked a tad winded on faster songs such as "The Race Is On," Jones still handled his lovelorn ballads masterfully, tugging on heartstrings with "Bartender's Blues," "I'm Not Ready Yet" and a medley that melded "The Window Up Above," "She Thinks I Still Care" and others.
Before the show, I chatted with Jones in a telephone interview. As his Jack Russell terrier barked in the background, Jones offered a stern apprasial of modern country music.
"This new country needs to find a new title and quit stepping on country music like it's a steppingstone," Jones says of the stuff that dominates radio. "Country music is country music, and if they want to do something else, then find a new title. It breaks my heart because I know country music the way it's supposed to be."