Country singer George Jones dies aged 81 | News | DW | 26.04.2013
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Country singer George Jones dies aged 81

In the midst of a farewell tour, legendary American country singer George Jones has died at the age of 81. He was an inspiration to singers from Frank Sinatra to Elvis Costello.

Texas-born George Jones was due to complete his year-long, farewell tour in November with a star-studded tribute in Nashville alongside artists including Garth Brooks, Randy Travis, Charlie Daniels and Kenny Rogers.

Born in Saratoga, Texas, on September 12, 1931, Jones first sang as a boy on the streets of nearby Beaumont. His first No. 1 song, "White Lightning," came in 1959.

Jones had No. 1 songs across five decades until the 1990s. He recorded more than 150 albums. His signature song was "He Stopped Loving Her Today," about a man who carries his love for a woman to his grave. The 1980 ballad, which Jones was sure would never be a hit, is often cited as the most popular country song of all time.

Jones had over 160 charting singles, more than any popular music star of any genre. He shared several hits with singer Tammy Wynette such as "We're Gonna Hold On." They were married from 1969 to 1975.

The singer had an eventful life. He fought alcoholism and drug addiction. At one point his wife cleared the liquor from their home and hid all the car keys so he could not go for more. Jones responded by driving his lawn-mower to a bar. He then wrote about the episode in "Honky Tonk Song."

His failure to appear for concerts led to his nickname "No Show Jones." He recorded a song by that name and often opened his shows by singing it.

He credited his marriage to Nancy Ford Sepulvado in 1983 for turning his life around. She survives him.

In 1992 Jones was elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame and in 2008 was among the artists honored in Washington at the Kennedy Center.

"I don't want to completely quit because I don't know what to do with myself," he said in 2005. "I'll be out there as long as the people want me to be out there."

Jones died Friday at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee, eight days after he was admitted to hospital with fever and irregular blood pressure.

jm/hc (AP,AFP)

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