The life and legacy of George Jones was celebrated Friday night in Nashville at a tribute concert dubbed “Playin’ Possum! The Final NO SHOW,” reports The Tennessean. The November 22 date was supposed to be George’s final show of his farewell The Grand Tour, but the country legend passed away in April at the age of 81. More than 100 performers took the stage at Bridgestone Arena for an almost four-hour concert that included more than 40 songs made famous by George.
Big & Rich kicked off the show, taking the stage on riding lawn mowers to sing “Love Bug.” When Vince Gill stepped into the spotlight, he recalled his emotional performance of “Go Rest High On That Mountain” at George’s funeral, calling it “the hardest thing I had to do.” Friday night, he performed “Bartender’s Blues while wearing a t-shirt that said “Sweet Pea,” the nickname bestowed upon him by George.
Following Brad Paisley’s performance of “The One I Loved Back Then (The Corvette Song),” he told the audience “No was more generous to me than George Jones. I know he’s looking down at this and saying, ‘Son, where’s all the money goin’ for this?’”
Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood sang the first duet of the night, “Take Me,” which George originally performed with his then-wife Tammy Wynette, reported USA Today. Blake Shelton and Miranda Lambert joined together for “These Days (I Barely Get By).”
It wasn’t just country stars who turned out to honor George Jones. Heavy metal group Megadeth paired with Jamey Johnson on “Wild Irish Rose” and Sam Moore of legendary soul duo Sam & Dave also took part in the tribute, singing “Blues Man.” As the evening drew to a close, the night turned more reverent. Martina McBride performed “Golden Ring” with George Strait, who also sang a solo Jones hit, “The Grand Tour.”
Alan Jackson brought the emotional evening to a close with a performance of “He Stopped Loving Her Today,” the same tune he performed at George’s funeral — and which is also regarded as one of the best country music songs ever written. George’s widow, Nancy Jones, joined Alan for the final verse. “George would have liked nothing better for all his fans here, and all the artists here tonight, to sing along,” Alan said.
The tribute wrapped “George Jones Week” in Nashville, which kicked off Monday with the unveiling of a George Jones monument and the announcement of the George Jones Scholarship at Middle Tennessee State University. The week also included Tootsie’s Birthday Bash, which both celebrated the legendary Honky Tonk’s 53rd birthday and served as the pre-party for the tribute concert.
Sold out for months in advance, the George Jones tribute concert was streamed live on a large screen set up outside Bridgestone Arena. Despite the rain and cold temperatures, fans zipped up their coats and set up lawn chairs to be a part of the tribute.
For a complete set list from “Playin’ Possum! The Final NO SHOW,” visit USAToday.com.