My Kind of Country

Country music from a fan's point of view since 2008

Spotlight Artist: George Jones (Part 1 of 3)

“If we all sounded like we wanted to, we’d all sound like George Jones” — Waylon Jennings

Country music has produced many legends, but one name in particular is at the top of nearly everyone’s list — George Jones. Frequently acclaimed as country music’s greatest living singer, we are proud to announce that he is our spotlight artist for the month of July.

George Glenn Jones was born in a log cabin in Saratoga, Texas, near Beaumont, on September 12, 1931, the youngest of eight children. The family got its first radio when George was seven years old, and when he was nine, his father bought him a guitar, and his lifelong love affair with country music began. He quickly learned that he could earn money through his music, often getting free bus rides in exchange for entertaining the other passengers. By age eleven, he was busking in the streets of Beaumont, earning as much as twenty-five dollars a day — and in what was to become a lifelong habit — blowing the money in an arcade as soon as it was earned.

When George was 17, he married Dorothy Bonvillion. The union lasted less than a year; they were divorced by the time their daughter Susan was born. In order to make the court-mandated child support payments, George joined the Marine Corps. He didn’t see combat, but he obtained some gigs singing on Saturday nights and continued to hone his craft.

After leaving the Marine Corp in 1953, Jones returned to Beaumont and got a job as a disc jockey at radio station KTRM. He caught the attention of Jack Starnes and H.W. “Pappy” Dailey, the owners of Starday Records. His earliest records didn’t have much impact beyond East Texas, but by 1955 he had his first bonafide hit with “Why Baby Why”, which peaked at #4 on the Billboard chart, and might have charted higher had it not been that Red Sovine and Webb Pierce recorded a cover version for Decca Records (their version went to #1). In 1956, Jones was invited to join the Grand Ole Opry.

Starday was eventually sold to Mercury Records, and George remained with the label until 1962. Pappy Dailey continued to be George’s manager and record producer (although Jones later said that Dailey had done very little in his role as producer and that Jones himself performed most of the production duties). While he was at Mercury, George had such hits as “White Lightnin'”,(his first #1), “Color Of The Blues” , and “The Window Up Above.” During that time, he developed a more polished vocal style, and his records’ production shifted from a raw honky-tonk style to the more sophisticated Nashville Sound of the day. In 1962, he followed Pappy Dailey to United Artists Records, where he scored such classic hits as “She Thinks I Still Care,” “The Race Is On” and a number of memorable duets with Melba Montgomery, including “We Must Have Been Out Of Our Minds.”

In 1964, Pappy Dailey and former Mercury executive Art Talmadge bought out United Artists’ share in New York-based Musicor Records, and Dailey’s clients, including Jones and Melba Montgomery, were transferred to the new label. Jones’ first sessions at Musicor were duets with the label’s flagship artist, Gene Pitney. Their hit duets together included “Things Have Gone To Pieces” and “I’ve Got Five Dollars And It’s Saturday Night.” As a solo artist, George recorded almost 300 songs during his Musicor tenure, and scored 25 hits, including “Love Bug”, “Walk Through This World With Me”, “If My Heart Had Windows”, “Say It’s Not You”, “When The Grass Grows Over Me”, and “A Good Year For The Roses.”

George had remarried in 1954 to Shirley Corley. Although the marriage lasted fourteen years and produced two sons, the two were not well suited for each other. Shirley showed little interest in George’s career and opted to remain in Texas when he moved to Nashville. Her lack of support, combined George’s alcohol abuse took its toll on the marriage, and the couple divorced in 1968. Shortly thereafter, George met a young up-and-coming singer named Tammy Wynette.

7 responses to “Spotlight Artist: George Jones (Part 1 of 3)

  1. Andrew Leprich July 1, 2010 at 11:12 am

    The Possum is my favorite country artist, so I couldn’t be more thrilled with his selection as this month’s spotlight artist.

  2. Leeann Ward July 1, 2010 at 2:58 pm

    I’m looking forward to this. As a kid listening to country music, I didn’t like much old country music. However, George Jones and Hank Williams were my exceptions, because they were the only country music albums my grandparents had when I visited them. And old country music was better than no country music to me.:) So, George Jones and Hank Williams have always held a special place in my country music evolvement for me, because I liked them a lot even when most of my listening didn’t get more traditional than Conway Twitty.

  3. Chad MacNeil July 1, 2010 at 3:16 pm

    Awesome Possum!!

  4. pwdennis July 3, 2010 at 8:09 am

    The Musicor years are among the most interesting because of the sheer volume of material recorded. Musicor only had three reliable sellers – Gene Pitney, George Jones and (very briefly) The Platters – so they tended to over-record both Pitney and Jones.

    Since George was releasing four or five albums a year, the search for material was endless forcing George to record a wide array of songs, including many covers of recent hits plus songs that might have been deemed unsuitable for release at other labels, including “Unwanted Babies” and “Brothers of the Bottle”. I love George’s 1960s recordings and most of my favorite George Jones recordings come from the 400+ recording made during the Musicor and United Artists years

    • J.R. Journey July 3, 2010 at 12:13 pm

      I remember being really surprised at the number of songs on Jones’ United Artists box set, which only spans 1962 – 64. There are 150 songs spread over 5 discs that he recorded during that 2, 3 year period alone. That’s kind of staggering, and means he recorded roughly a song a week.

      • Razor X July 4, 2010 at 11:29 am

        As Paul said, the Musicor volume is even more staggering. Jones said that he used to record an entire album in three hours — and on a lot of the album filler, it really shows. On some songs, you can hear where he’s getting hoarse and on others there are mistakes that they didn’t bother to correct. Pappy Dailey had a financial stake in the label and was more concerned with cranking out quantity rather than quality. That’s not to say that Jones didn’t have some great moments at Musicor; some of his all-time classics come from that era.

        • Charlene Montgomery November 15, 2021 at 2:01 am

          George was the greatest. I knew him personally and my husband Earl Peanutt Montgomery ( Melba Montgomerys brother) wrote 73 songs that was recorded and released by George. My sister, Linda was George’s fourth wife. It was not Nancy as every body has been told. Nancy lived with George for 30 years and done s lot toward helping him recover from his drug and alcohol addiction. But she wasn’t married to George. They had a wedding at Georges sisters house when they lived In Texas, but that wedding was not legal. George was still married to Linda Welborn Jones. They never got a divorce . Later on Linda decided to get married to someone else because Nancy had claimed to be George’s wife. Linda got a little worried about getting married without first getting a divorce from George, so li da decided to go and talk with the judge a out it and the judge quickly told Linda to ha e her marriage annulled because it was not legal and that George and Nancy’s marriage was note legal and that George was a bigamist which was against the law. The judge told Linda to get a lawyer and file for a divorce and make sure it was registered in the county and the state on which she and George lived. The judge that’s the only way for her to be legally divorced from George. She filed for the divorce but it was nd ef recorded with the state of Alabama, nor the county of Colbert. So the divorce has never been legal and neither was George and Nancy’s marriage ever legal. Linda is George’s fourth wife and is his legal widow according to the Alabama law. Somebody didn’t want the divorce recorded and I have a good idea who that person was, but they didn’t know that by it not being recorded would make it not a legal divorce. So it’s best not to try to hide the truth. It will eventually come out and you will be caught up with. As George use to say, THE TRUTH SHALL PREVAIL.

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