George Jones Biography

George Jones' 2008 CD, Burn Your Playhouse Down: The Unreleased Duets. Photo courtesy of Bandit Records.

Burn Your Playhouse Down: the unreleased duets is a collection of never-before-heard duets between George Jones and an illustrious group of guest stars. The recordings range from the mid-70s with his ex-wife, the First Lady of Country Music, Tammy Wynette, to the most recent recording from 2007 with his daughter, Georgette, the only child from the union of George and Tammy.

All of the songs are unreleased tracks from various projects involving different producers and eras of country music. George was aware of some of the songs but others were a total surprise. The biggest surprise was the discovery of an unreleased George and Tammy duet. Epic Records kindly searched their vaults and found "Lovin’ You, Lovin’ Me." Although not the greatest song ever recorded, the two singers shine in their unmistakable vocal blend and is a treat for anyone who ever listened to "George and Tammy."

The most recent recording teams George with his daughter Georgette on "You And Me And Time." Georgette co-wrote the song, detailing some of the alienation she felt from her father growing up. The happy ending provides inspiration that time can heal old wounds.

There is no doubt that George Jones helped set the standard for modern country music. It is impossible to overstate his impact as one of the architects of the country music sound.

George Jones' 2008 duet with his daughter, Georgette Jones, "You And Me And Time." Photo courtesy of Bandit Records.

George Glenn Jones was born in 1931 in the East Texas town of Saratoga. As a kid, he sang for tips on the streets of nearby Beaumont. By age 24, he had been married twice, served in the Marines and was a veteran of the Texas honky-tonk circuit. On a recording session in 1955 for Starday Records, producer Pappy Dailey suggested he quit singing like his idols, Lefty Frizzell, Roy Acuff and Hank Williams, and try singing like George Jones. The result was "Why Baby Why," his first Top 5 Hit.

At Starday, George made rockabilly records as Thumper George. As many artists did at the time, George also played guitar and sang the "hits of the day" on radio shows. During one of these radio shows, George had the opportunity to play guitar for his hero, Hank Williams. George remembers that day with awe and said, "When he started to sing, I was starstruck and never hit a note on the guitar." George had his first country No. 1 at Mercury Records in 1959 with "White Lightning." The hits kept coming and he had No. 1s with "Tender Years," "She Thinks I Still Care," "The Window Up Above," "The Race Is On" and "Walk Through This World With Me."

Tammy Wynette and George Jones. Photo courtesy of Bandit Records.

George, the top male singer in country music, married country music’s hottest new female artist, Tammy Wynette, in 1969. He soon joined Tammy's label, Epic Records, where he enjoyed an extremely successful 20-year association with producer Billy Sherrill. His hits included "The Grand Tour," "A Picture Of Me Without You" and "The Door" and, while his marriage to Tammy was stormy, they were perfect duet partners and their hits included "We’re Gonna Hold On," "Golden Ring" and "Near You."

Touring schedules and the pressures of success weighed on George. He was drinking heavily and began to self-destruct. "I never had anything as a kid and all of a sudden I had everything thrown at my feet. It can ruin you quickly." George was out of control and it was complicated by bad management, tax problems, cocaine abuse, massive debt and a new moniker as "No Show George" that just about wiped away his career. Angry promoters and scraps with the law prompted lawsuits and drove George further into despair.

"There was a lot of self-pity. I trusted people that I shouldn’t have and I lost everything. I have no one to blame but myself," George told People magazine in 1992. Ironically, during the darkest days of George’s despair, he recorded the biggest song of an already impressive 30-year career with "He Stopped Loving Her Today." George’s performance of that song went on to win virtually every award in music, including a Grammy Award, CMA Single of the Year in 1980 and 1981 and, 10 years later, Favorite Country Song of all time.

George met his fourth and final wife, Nancy Sepulvado, in 1981 during the height of the "He Stopped Loving Her Today" frenzy. "I’d heard the horror stories," Nancy told People magazine "but I’m of the opinion you don’t believe it til you see it. I ended up seeing plenty of it but we just clicked. I saw a lot of good in a man who was being totally destroyed." It got to the point that in 1984, George was told he would only live another couple of days if he continued to drink. He entered a hospital and dried out. It just about killed him and he spent the next year trying to kick his bad habits, reentering the hospital seven times in his effort to get straight.