George Glenn Jones (born September 12, 1931 in Saratoga, Texas), is an American country music singer known for his long list of hit records, his distinctive voice and phrasing, and his marriage to Tammy Wynette.
Over the past twenty years, Jones has frequently been referred to as "the greatest living country singer". The country music scholar Bill C. Malone writes, "For the two or three minutes consumed by a song, Jones immerses himself so completely in its lyrics, and in the mood it conveys, that the listener can scarcely avoid becoming similarly involved."
Throughout his long career, Jones made headlines often as much for tales of his drinking, stormy relationships with women, and violent rages as for his prolific career of making records and touring. His wild lifestyle led to Jones missing many performances, earning him the nickname "No Show Jones." With the help of his fourth wife, Nancy, he has been sober for many years. Jones clocked up more than 150 hits during his career, both as a solo artist and in duets with other artists.
George Glenn Jones was born on September 12, 1931 in Saratoga, Texas and raised in Vidor, Texas, along with his brother and five sisters (another sister died young before George was born), being exposed to music from an early age from his parents own record collection and listening to the gospel music he heard in church or in a barn. When George was seven the Jones family bought a radio which introduced George to the country music that would become his life. The gift of a guitar when Jones was a young boy of nine soon saw him busking for money on the streets of his hometown of Beaumont.
Jones left home at sixteen and headed for Jasper, Texas where he found work singing and playing on a local radio station. Before he was out of his teens he married his first wife, Dorothy but their union didn't even last a full year and Jones joined the United States Marine Corps. Despite the Korean War being fought at the time Jones was not sent overseas; instead, he sang in bars near his base in California. After leaving the Marine Corps his music career took off.
Jones' alcohol consumption was legendary. For a great part of his life he woke up to a screwdriver and spent the rest of the day drinking bourbon. He was given the nickname "No-Show Jones" as a result of his missing many performances during his days of drug abuse. The song 'No-Show Jones,' makes fun of the foibles and weaknesses of Jones and other country singers.
Perhaps one of the best known stories of Jones' drinking days occurred while he was married to Shirley Corley, his second wife. Jones resorted to some desperate measures in obtaining alcohol:
Once, when I had been drunk for several days, Shirley decided she would make it physically impossible for me to buy liquor. I lived about eight miles from Beaumont and the nearest liquor store. She knew I wouldn't walk that far to get booze, so she hid the keys to every car we owned and left. But she forgot about the lawn mower. I can vaguely remember my anger at not being able to find keys to anything that moved and looking longingly out a window at a light that shone over our property. There, gleaming in the glow, was that ten-horsepower rotary engine under a seat. A key glistening in the ignition.
I imagine the top speed for that old mower was five miles per hour. It might have taken an hour and a half or more for me to get to the liquor store, but get there I did.
The riding mower doesn't seem to be a one-time event. Wife Tammy Wynette told her riding mower story in her 1979 autobiography.
About 1 am I would wake up and look over to find he was gone. I got into the car and drove to the nearest bar 10 miles away.
When I pulled into the parking lot there sat our rider-mower right by the entrance. He'd driven that mower right down a main highway. He looked up and saw me and said, `Well, fellas, here she is now. My little wife, I told you she'd come after me.'
Jones later jokingly sang of the lawn mower incident in his 1996 single "Honky Tonk Song", and parodied his own arrest in the song's music video.
In the 1970s, Jones was introduced to cocaine by a manager before a show in which he was too tired to perform. This accelerated his already unpredictable actions. His self-destructive bent brought him close to death and to the inside of a psychiatric hospital in Alabama at the end of the decade. Although somewhat celebrated by some of his fans as the hard-drinkin', fast-livin' spiritual-son of his idol, Hank Williams, he missed so many booked engagements that he became known as "No-Show Jones." He was often broke and later admitted that friends Waylon Jennings and Johnny Cash came to his aid financially during this period.
Poking fun at his past, two country music videos would feature Jones arriving on a riding lawn mower. The first was Hank Williams, Jr's "All My Rowdy Friends Are Coming Over Tonight" in 1984 while the second was Vince Gill's "One More Last Chance" in 1993. In fact, Gill's song mentioned the riding lawn mower with the lines "She might have took my car keys, but she forgot about my old John Deere." At the end of Gill's video, he is leaving the golf course on a John Deere tractor and greets Jones with "hey possum." Jones, arriving at the golf course driving a John Deere riding lawn mower with a set of golf clubs mounted behind him, would reply back to Gill "hey sweetpea."
Jones was married twice before he turned 24. His first marriage was to Dorothy Bonvillion in 1950, a marriage that lasted but a year. They had one daughter, Susan. In 1954, Jones married Shirley Ann Corley. This marriage lasted until 1968 and they had two sons, Jeffrey and Brian. He next married fellow country musician Tammy Wynette in 1969. They were married until 1975 and had one daughter, Georgette. Georgette Jones, now a published country singer in her own right, has performed on stage with her famous father. He married his current wife, Nancy Sepulveda, on March 4, 1983 in Woodville, Texas. Sepulveda also became his manager. Jones credits Nancy for rescuing him from drinking, as well as cocaine consumption. The couple currently live in Franklin, TN.
Nancy Sepulveda (March 4, 1983 ? Present)
Tammy Wynette (February 16, 1969 ? March 13, 1975) (divorced) 1 child
Shirley Ann Corley (September 14, 1954 ? June 11, 1968) (divorced) 2 children
Dorothy Bonvillion (1950 ? 1951) (divorced) 1 child
Jones lives in Franklin, Tennessee with his wife, Nancy Jones. Also in a separate house on his property lives Sherry Hohimer, his stepdaughter. Sherry's husband, Kirk, helps Jones with concert setup. Sherry and Kirk's children Carlos and Breann Hohimer and his other step daughter Adina and her son Cameron Estes who had lived on the property (George's grandchildren) live on his property.
Despite being in his seventies, Jones is still an active recording artist and still tours extensively on the North American continent as well as overseas. His other projects include the George Jones "University" which is a twice-yearly training program for those wishing to learn about a career in the music business. He also endorses his own brand of sausages which are produced for him by Williams Sausage Company of Tennessee using Jones's own recipe. The product boxes feature stories from Jones's colorful life. Other food products he has brought out include a range of barbecue sauces.
Jones and wife Nancy run a diner in Enterprise, Alabama which is decorated with memorabilia from Jones's long career in the country music business.
Jones is also a partner in Bandit Records, an independent record company set up by Jones and others when Jones's former record company Asylum Records was closed down by its owners AOL Time Warner. Bandit Records philosophy is to "create unique, interesting projects with artistic integrity that can operate free from the constraints of the corporate music industry".
Jones believed the 1983 Academy Award-winning film Tender Mercies, about the life of fictional singer Mac Sledge, was based on his own life. Actor Robert Duvall and other filmmakers denied this and claimed the character was based on nobody in particular.
In 2006, he was treated in a Nashville, Tennessee hospital for pneumonia but made a full recovery and continued with his prolific touring schedule.
In August 2008 Jones was named "Artist of the Month" by GAC. On December 7, 2008, he was one of the annual recipients of the prestigious Kennedy Center Honors, along with vocalist Barbra Streisand, choreographer Twyla Tharp, actor Morgan Freeman, and musicians Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey from the British rock band, The Who. The gala, hosted by President Bush and Mrs. Bush, and taped in Washington, D.C., was aired on CBS television December 30, 2008.
Jones was also a judge for the 8th annual Independent Music Awards to support independent artists. George appeared on the Mike Huckabee show in September 2009 to talk about his life and share a few of his hits.
Number one country hits
"White Lightning" (1959)
"Tender Years" (1961)
"She Thinks I Still Care" (1962)
"Walk Through This World With Me" (1967)
"We're Gonna Hold On" (with Tammy Wynette) (1973)
"The Grand Tour" (1974)
"The Door" (1975)
"Golden Ring" (with Tammy Wynette) (1976)
"Near You" (with Tammy Wynette) (1977)
"He Stopped Loving Her Today" (1980)
"(I Was Country) When Country Wasn't Cool" (with Barbara Mandrell) (1981)
"Still Doin' Time" (1981)
"Yesterday's Wine" (with Merle Haggard) (1982)
"I Always Get Lucky With You" (1983)