George Jones turned 80 years old on September 12 with a birthday party at Rippy’s, a barbecue restaurant in downtown Nashville, before heading to the Grand Ole Opry for a star-studded birthday bash. George, who has battled addiction, is thankful to reach 80. “I am pretty sure this milestone means to me the same thing it means to anyone who reaches 80,” he told the South Bend Tribune. “Dang glad to be here.”
While he has earned the right to retire, George is still on the road, playing around 60 dates a year. He gives full credit to his fans for keeping him on tour. “I would say the secret for my longevity is the fans,” he said. “Country music fans are the most loyal fans in the world. They stick by you through thick and thin.”
Several of George’s brothers in music, including Johnny Cash and Waylon Jennings, have passed away. George, Merle Haggard and Willie Nelson have been left to carry on the traditional country sound they are known for.
“I have always stayed true to my roots in country music because it is what I love,” George told the paper. “I am sad to have lost so many of my dear friends. We were like family back in the days when we were young and struggling to make a name for ourselves.”
George has earned himself a couple of nicknames over the years. He’s called ‘The Possum’ because of his facial features and the shape of his nose. He also goes by “No Show Jones,” a name he received during his drinking days when he had a tendency not to show up for concert dates.
“Neither are very flattering, but I guess deserved,” he said. “I wouldn’t be honest if I didn’t say I regret all the times I failed to show up at a concert when my fans had paid their hard-earned money to come to see me, but addiction is a terrible thing for anyone to overcome.”
George will be playing shows in Waukegan, Illinois and Green Bay this weekend. Visit www.GeorgeJones.com for more tour dates.