Country music mourned the loss of a legend when George Jones passed away April 26, 2013 at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. He was hospitalized April 18 with fever and irregular blood pressure. George was 81 years old.
George is survived by his wife of 30 years, Nancy Jones, his sister Helen Scroggins, and by his children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews. As word of George’s death spread, country stars expressed their condolences.
Alan Jackson released this statement: “Well, heaven better get ready for some great country music. While George was known for his wild and crazy days, I’ve known him for 25 years as a friend. He had grown into a real good man. Of course, he’ll always be the greatest singer and interpreter of real country music – there’ll never be another. Like the song says, ‘You know this old world is full of singers, but just a few are chosen to tear your heart out when they sing. Imagine life without them…Who’s gonna fill their shoes.’”
George Strait shared this memory: “The most special memory was when he gave me my medallion at the Hall of Fame Ceremony. He actually was the one that did the actual induction. And what a special night that was. We’re just gonna miss George so much. This came as a total shock to me. I didn’t even know that George was in the hospital. To the whole music industry, it’s gonna be a big void not having George out there. But you know, we’ve got his music — and that music will live forever. He did a lot of crazy things in his career and no matter how crazy he got, everybody still loved him because that’s just the kind of guy that George was. We’re just all gonna miss him. It’s a sad day for the music business, for sure.”
Dierks Bentley, who is still a member of George Jones’ fan club, said he’s “heartbroken,” and tweeted, “nancy and @gjpossum had a beautiful marriage and special relationship. love you nancy. long live the possum. gonna miss my buddy. real sad.”
Merle Haggard said, “The world has lost the greatest country singer of all time. Amen.”
Thousands of fans made their way to the Grand Ole Opry House in Nashville on May 2 to pay their respects to the country legend at his public funeral. Randy Travis, the Oak Ridge Boys, Charlie Daniels, Travis Tritt, Vince Gill, Patty Loveless, Brad Paisley, Kenny Chesney, and Alan Jackson were just a few of the stars who performed or spoke during the funeral.
George was in the midst of his final tour, The Grand Tour, when he passed away. His last show was scheduled for Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena on November 22 with an all-star lineup. After his death, his widow Nancy made the decision for the show to go on as “Playin’ Possum! The Final No Show Tribute To George Jones.”
The week of the concert was dubbed “George Jones Week” in Nashville and kicked off with the unveiling of a George Jones monument at Woodland Roesch-Patton Funeral Home and Memorial Park in Nashville and the announcement of a scholarship in his name at Middle Tennessee State University. Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge on Lower Broadway celebrated its 53rd birthday November 21-22 with two days of live music and served as the kick-off event for the George Jones Tribute Concert.
On November 22, 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. See a full list of the performers >>
Big & Rich kicked off the show, taking the stage on riding lawn mowers to sing “Love Bug.” 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.
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.