George Jones Dead at 81

Rolling Stone
George Jones Dead at 81

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George Jones Dead at 81

George Jones, known as "the greatest voice in country music," died today at a Nashville Hospital after being hospitalized last week with a fever and irregular blood pressure, his publicist said today. He was 81 years old.

Born into a modest household in Saratoga, Texas, Jones went on to 143 Top 40 country hits; fourteen went to Number One, beginning with 1959's "White Lightning," and they continued through the decades including "She Thinks I Still Care and "He Stopped Loving Her Today." Sinatra called him "the second greatest singer in America." Keith Richards calls him "a national treasure." He is survived by Nancy Jones, his wife of 30 years, his sister Helen Scroggins and children, grandchildren, nices and nephews.

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His epic career included four marriages, addictions to drugs and alcohol, arrests and missed gigs, earning him the nickname "no show Jones"; in 1983, he led police on a televised chase through the streets of Nashville and was involved in a a near-fatal drinking-related auto accident in 1999.

But Jones never lost his ability to deliver heartbreaking country classics. He was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1992, and was a Kennedy Center Honoree in 2008 and received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award last year. He was in the process of ending his seven-decade career Grand Tour. His final Nashville concert, planned for November 22nd, was the cornerstone of the tour, with fans like Keith Richards, Jamey Johnson, Garth Brooks, Kid Rock, Kenny Rogers and more.  

Rolling Stone will report more as the story develops.

This article originally appeared on Rolling Stone: George Jones Dead at 81
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