Ten George Jones career milestones
5. No Show Jones
By the late 1970s, Jones had to declare bankruptcy after promoters sued him for missed dates; at the time, it's said he was missing on average a show each week due to his heavy drinking and drug abuse. He crashed cars, was hospitalized and arrested repeatedly, even fired a gun at a friend. But through it all, his fans never lost heart - he continued to release hit records year after year.
4. Donald Duck
In the 1970s, a manager allegedly introduced Jones to cocaine when he was too tired to perform. The decade ended with him close to death, committed to a psychiatric hospital, and talking like Donald Duck. It seems Jones had developed a sort of split persona in Deedoodle Duck (Donald's cousin, natch), and would himself often speak in quack-talk. And Jones' webbed-foot alter-ego would notably join him onstage; he was set to perform a comeback show at Nashville's Exit/In for an audience of industry insiders in 1979, and was too quacked out of his mind to take the stage. When they brought him before the audience, he forgot all the words to his songs - his bass player would whisper a line to him, and Deedoodle would repeat it in quack-talk. According to Jones' autobiography, it was a meba-bender of booze and drugs that left him in such a state, and he one day found himself locked in a Donald Duck voice that he couldn't stop using when he spoke.
3. Cleanin' up
After a 1999 car accident almost took his life and with the help of his wife of now almost thirty years, Jones finally managed to sober up as he approached his seventies. Today, he tours perhaps more than any other country musician of his vintage.
Jones has received numerous honors during his nearly sixty-year career, from joining the Opry and being named Most Promising New Country Vocalist in 1956, to being inducted to the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1992. He was awarded a Kennedy Center Honor in 2008, and given a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award earlier this year.
1. Don't need no rockin' chair
All told, Jones has recorded over 900 songs since the mid-1950s, and through it all, he's still inspiring fans and fellow musicians alike. As Waylon Jennings said, "If all of us could sing the way we wanted to, we would all sound like George Jones." Here's to a successful last tour, and hopes that Jones can finally take up that rocking chair in his retirement.