Friday, April 26, 2013

The 'King of Country' is dead, long live ...

George Jones was all over the place when I was growing up.  My mother -- a huge fan -- had a decent selection of country music albums in our house ... Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings before they grew their hair out and became outlaws, Tammy Wynette singing about "D-I-V-O-R-C-E," Hank Snow, Porter Wagoner with a young lady named Dolly Parton, on and on.

George Jones
Among all those albums, there was George Jones staring out with his crew cut hair style.  If it wasn't my mother listening to him on a regular basis, it would be some other relation, you could hear him on the radio on a daily basis.

While Elvis was the "King of Rock 'n' Roll," George Jones was the king of country.  You'd be hard-pressed to find many people who would dispute that.

I paid tribute to George last June in another blog of mine when the news broke that he was in poor health and had to cancel some shows.  I wished him well, hoping he could recover and go on.  Less than a year later, we're mourning the news today of his death at 81.  An official cause has yet to be determined, but he had been hospitalized since April 18 at a Nashville hospital with fever and irregular blood pressure.

The country music world and its fans are deeply saddened.  A long-reigning king -- honored by other country superstars as such -- is gone.  Who's gonna fill that possum's shoes?

George didn't just sing country songs, he lived them.  He was notorious when it came to his drinking.  A legendary story out of that habit had to do with an ex-wife who grew tired of his boozing, to the point that she hid the keys to every vehicle they had so he couldn't go to the liquor store several miles away.  But she forgot about the keys to one thing -- a riding lawn mower.  It took him a few hours to do it, but George took those keys and drove that mower at a top speed of four miles an hour to get what he was after.

In later years, he didn't speak of that time with pride.  He knew it was wrong, but he also knew you can't change history.

He never did stop pouring his heart out in a country song.

The "King" is dead.  And still, again, we're left to ask ourselves who's gonna fill those shoes the way George Jones did?  They're mighty big shoes to fill.

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