George Jones was the American country music star best known to general audiences by way of the 1980 hit “He Stopped Loving Her Today.” Country music fans know him as the longtime Nashville star whose personal life added authenticity to the baritone heartache of his songs. George Jones grew up in Texas, but left home in his teens to begin a career in music. After a stint in the Marines during the Korean War, Jones got his first recording contract in 1952, and his 1959 single “White Lightning” became the first of over 140 different top 40 hits.
Jones established himself with singles such as “Tender Years” (1961) and “The Race Is On” (1964), and he truly excelled with duets, first with Melba Montgomery, then with wife Tammy Wynette. Although his marriage to Wynette lasted just six years, their story was the stuff of country music legend — two stars in a turbulent love affair — and they continued recording together even after their 1975 divorce. By the end of the 1970s, Jones had filed bankruptcy and was known as “No Show” Jones because of his many canceled concerts and missed appearances. And yet his 1980 album I Am What I Am went gold, and the Country Music Association gave him a long-overdue award for best male vocalist for the album’s single “He Stopped Loving Her Today.”
George Jones was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1992, given the National Medal of Arts in 2002 and awarded a special Grammy for lifetime achievement in 2012. His other songs include “Tender Years,” “She Thinks I Still Care,” “Golden Ring” (with Wynette) and “If Drinkin’ Don’t Kill Me (Her Memory Will).”