My Kind of Country

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

Tag Archives: Nancy Sepulveda

Spotlight Artist: George Jones (Part 3 of 3)

When George Jones married Nancy Sepulveda in 1983, he finally began to put his personal demons behind him and started the long road to recovery. He quit drinking and got off drugs and started working on rebuilding his reputation which had suffered from missing too many concert dates; though Jones pointed out in his 1996 memoirs that he was never actually booked for a number of appearances he “missed”. Unscrupulous promoters capitalized on his “No Show Jones” reputation by selling tickets to concerts for which Jones had never been slated to appear, and then claimed that Jones had gone a drinking binge and wouldn’t be appearing.

Though his years of drug and alcohol abuse had taken its toll on George’s financial well-being, his records continued to sell well. Rick Blackburn, who was the label head for CBS’s Nashville division in the 1980s claimed that the worse Jones behaved, the better his records sold. In 1991, Jones signed a new record deal with MCA, ending a 20-year association with Epic Records. His first release for his new label was 1991’s And Along Came Jones. Produced by Kyle Lehning, it was the first George Jones album in two decades not produced by the now retired Billy Sherrill.

By this time, the “Young Country” movement had firmly taken hold, and older artists were, for the most part, put out to pasture by country radio. During this time, George began to be regarded as country music’s elder statesman, as nearly every hot new act from Garth Brooks and Travis Tritt to Pam Tillis and Patty Loveless, named him as a major influence on their work. In 1992, he was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame, and was also joined by Brooks, Tritt, Tillis, and Loveless, along with Joe Diffie, T. Graham Brown, Mark Chesnutt, Vince Gill, Alan Jackson and Clint Black for “I Don’t Need Your Rockin’ Chair”, said to be a rebuke for being replaced by Ricky Van Shelton on the Dolly Parton duet “Rockin’ Years.” “Rockin’ Chair” was named Vocal Event of the Year in 1993 by the CMA. That same year, the ACM presented Jones with its Pioneer Award. In 1998, he won the CMA’s Vocal Event of the Year award again, this time for “You Don’t Seem To Miss Me”, a collaboration with Patty Loveless.

Although he didn’t rack up any big radio hits during his tenure with MCA, George’s albums continued to sell well; both 1992’s Walls Can Fall and 1993’s High Tech Redneck were certified gold. However, in the late 90s, Nashville labels had become accustomed to platinum and multi-platinum level sales; and artists who only sold 500,000 units had a hard time keeping their record deals. Jones was dropped from the MCA roster in 1999, amidst a huge outcry from his fans from both inside and outside the music industry.

He quickly landed a new deal with Asylum and released Cold Hard Truth, which was both a critical and commercial success, earning gold certification. The lead single “Choices” won a Grammy for Best Male Country Vocal Performance in 1999. It is probably best remembered for the controversy that ensued when the CMA invited Jones to perform the song on its 1999 awards telecast, but would not allot him enough time to sing the song in its entirety. George considered this an affront and refused to peform the song. Alan Jackson famously protested the CMA’s decision by singing the song on the air himself, halfway into the peformance of his own “Pop A Top.”

1999 was also the year that George suffered a setback in his sobriety. Just prior to the release of his Asylum debut album, he crashed his Lexus utility truck. It took rescue workers two hours to dig him out of the wreckage, and he later spent two weeks in the hospital recovering from his near-fatal injuries. At the time, it had been reported that George was talking to his label head on his cell phone, and was distracted by the truck’s cassette deck, which wasn’t working properly. However, it was later revealed that an empty vodka bottle was found in the vehicle.

Despite the newfound success surrounding Cold Hard Truth, it was Jones’ last studio album for a major label, as Asylum closed its Nashville division in late 1999. Once again without a record deal, George opted to start his own label, Bandit Records, which has released all of his music since 2001.

Jones was a Kennedy Center honoree in 2008, and although at age 78 his voice is no longer what it once was, he continues to be revered as country music’s greatest living singer. He is arguably the most important male singer in the genre’s history after Hank Williams. We hope that you enjoy this month’s coverage, and that you will be inspired to delve into portions of the vast George Jones catalog that you may have missed.

Spotlight Artist: George Jones (Part 2 of 3)

George Jones and Tammy Wynette met in 1966 when they were part of the same package show. They first performed together in 1967 when they were part of a package show with country star David Houston, who had a hit duet with Tammy (“My Elusive Dreams”) on the charts at the time. Tammy had been the opening act; one night Houston’s manager had asked her to allow Houston to go on first, since the singer had something else he’d wanted to later that evening. They wanted Tammy to come on stage during Houston’s segment of the show to perform their duet, and then come back and do her own segment later. Tammy objected and an argument ensued. She had been using Houston’s band because she couldn’t yet afford one of her own. Her refusal to change the sequence of the program resulted in Houston’s manager refusing to allow her to use the band. George Jones quickly came to the rescue; he allowed her to use his band, and also performed Houston’s part of their duet with her.

George had been Tammy’s childhood idol, but although there was a mutual attraction, both were married to other people, and their relationship remained platonic — at first. George’s second divorce was finalized in 1968, and one day he stopped by unannounced at the home of Tammy and her second husband Don Chapel. The couple were having an argument, and when Chapel insulted Tammy, a drunken George took offense. He angrily overturned the dining room table and declared his love for Tammy, who responded in kind. Jones left the house with Tammy and her three children. Shortly thereafter, the Chapels’ marriage was annulled on the grounds that Tammy had violated Alabama law by not waiting a full year after her first divorce before entering into another marriage. George and Tammy announced that they had eloped, though they did not actually get married until the following year.

It was the beginning of a stormy, made-for-the-tabloids relationship, which produced a daughter (Tamala Georgette, born in 1969) and a series of hit duets after Jones signed with Epic Records and Tammy’s producer Billy Sherrill, his 18-year association with Pappy Dailey having deteriorated beyond repair. The marriage ended in divorce in 1975. Jones acknowledged in his 1996 memoirs that his alcohol abuse was largely responsible for the breakdown of the relationship, though he disputed many of the claims that Tammy made in her 1979 memoirs.

Though his marriage to Tammy lasted only six years, his relationship with Epic Records and Billy Sherrill endured for two decades. Many industry insiders were skeptical that Sherrill — who had a reputation as a control freak in the studio — and Jones would be able to get along. Not only did they get along, together they raised George’s career to new heights with classic recordings such as “A Picture Of Me (Without You)”, “The Grand Tour” and “Bartender’s Blues.” But their greatest moment on record came in 1980 with “He Stopped Loving Her Today”, the biggest record of Jones’ career, which earned him another #1 hit, his first platinum album, and a Grammy Award for Best Male Vocal Country Performance in 1980. It was also named Single of the Year and Song of the Year by the Academy of Country Music in 1980 and Song of the Year by the Country Music Association in both 1980 and 1981. It ended a dry spell that had begun as Jones’ alcoholism and drug abuse worsened in the aftermath of his divorce from Tammy. Jones stated that “a four-decade career had been salvaged by a three-minute song.” Written by Bobby Braddock and Curly Putnam, it has frequently been named as the greatest country song of all time.

Jones continued to abuse alcohol and cocaine, often missing concert dates, which earned him the nickname “No Show Jones.” Although his recording career had been revived, he continued on a downward spiral personally until 1983, when he met Nancy Sepulveda, who would become the fourth Mrs. Jones, and the woman that George credits with rescuing him from drug and alcohol addiction.