George Jones Puts Guitar Aside


George Jones on The Grand Ole Opry
Photo courtesy of Bandit Records.

July 3, 2008 — George Jones had a guitar returned to him last month that had been stolen more than 40 years ago, though a wrist injury prevented him from playing it on stage that night. As it turns out, that injury might have helped him fix another physical ailment.

George broke his right wrist in October 2006 when he fell at the entrance of producer Keith Stegall’s Nashville studio. He had surgery a week later, then appeared at Carnegie Hall in New York without an acoustic guitar, which he’s traditionally played during his concerts.

The Possum intended to pick up the guitar again, but while his wrist was mending, he also discovered his spine was healing at the same time.

"My lower back got better when I worked without the guitar," he says. "I go out now and don’t play the guitar, and my back’s been doin’ a lot better."

The guitar, a 1957 acoustic Martin-00018, was plucked from his dressing room between shows when George played the Panther Hall in Dallas in 1962. He’s not certain, but he thinks he probably played it on some of his sessions. Thus the instrument might be heard on such early hits as "The Window Up Above," "Tender Years" or "She Thinks I Still Care."

"I’m pretty sure I did [use it on some of those hits], because I played guitar on my sessions for the first 10 or 12 years," George notes. "They told me I was a bad rhythm player finally, so I gave it up and just stuck to singin’."

He does plenty of that on his next album, George Jones: Burn Your Playhouse Down: The Unreleased Duets. Due Aug. 19, it features 12 tracks recorded between 1977 and 2007 with such vocal partners as Tammy Wynette, Keith Richards, Dolly Parton, Vince Gill and Ricky Skaggs.