I was country when country wasn’t cool. Although his name does not appear in the credits (it does appear in the lyrics), George Jones, who died yesterday in a Nashville hospital at the age of 81, sang the chorus of that hit by Barbara Mandrell published in 1981. It suited him like a glove. . “The singer of country most important of the last 50 years ”, according to The New York Times, it started to be cool (cool) when he was at his worst professionally and personally. That period in the mid-seventies in which he became fond of carrying a gun and cocaine. When he became “the drunkard and the official junkie of the country”, As he wrote in his autobiography.
He had been in business for a quarter of a century, he was a legend, and his singing had become the model for thousands of vocalists. From fans to stars like Garth Brooks, who never hid his debt to Jones and achieved what he never did, transcending the boundaries of cowboy music and reaching the pop audience.
Jones’s nuanced baritone voice, his hurt and sad songs, especially in those bleak ballads in which the protagonists face their defeats with an almost deterministic stoicism, became the quintessence of the country. For better and for worse. Those who considered the country as country music of sad cowboys they saw in him the paradigm of that model. Many of his vocal innovations have been turned into almost comical tics by an army of imitators devoid of personality.
Personally, he was the prototype of an artist who made millions to be ruined immediately afterwards. A traveling disaster that had hundreds of cars and dozens of houses. A collector of failed relationships, with four marriages behind him. The third with another legend of the country, Tammy Wynette.
George Glenn Jones, was born in Saratoga, Texas, and was the son of a truck driver who gave him his first guitar when he was nine years old. He started singing as a teenager; He was married for the first time at the age of 17; she divorced at 18, before the birth of the first of her four children. He served in the Marines between 1950 and 1953; he published his first single in 1954; had its first success, Why Baby why, in 1955; began to act in Grand Ole Opry, the mecca of country live, in 1956 and got his first number one on the charts, White lighting, in 1959.
They say that he had appeared in the studio so drunk that he had to record the voice taking 83 times before it was considered good. Throughout his career he would get at least another 13 number one, the last one in 1982. By then he was cool, and his life, as far as possible, had become more stable.
In 1983 he married Nancy Sepulveda, who became his manager. They had completed their thirtieth anniversary in March. In 1992, the honor guard of the country, from Garth Brooks to Patty Loveless, participated in the recording of her single I don’t need your rockin’ chair. And in 2012 he received the industry’s final tribute, which awarded him an honorary Grammy for lifetime achievement.