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With the help of his wife Nancy, Jones appeared to have conquered his bad habits for many years. But in 1999 after a night of drinking he ran into a bridge was nearly killed. He said it's the day he hit rock bottom.

"I knew I had to make some big changes or I wouldn't be around much longer . Nancy and I were doing an interview and they asked her what would happen if I fell off the wagon and started drinking again and she said and I quote 'You will be on here talking about the Late Great George Jones.'

Several surveys cited in Stephen Erlewine's "Song Review" named "He Stopped Loving Her Today" as the greatest country song of all time. The same book lists over 300 recorded versions of the song.

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"To be recognized by your peers is the greatest honor anyone can have bestowed upon them," he said,"no matter what form of business you are in."

He returned home and began playing dances and clubs throughout southeast Texas, earning the attention of a record producer in 1954. Richardson, known as "The Big Bopper," became his first No. 1 country hit. It's still one of his most popular songs.

"I thought the song was just too sad," he said. "I refused to record it for years until (Sherrill) finally just wore me down and I agreed to record it."

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years, his professional relationship with her producer, Billy Sherrill, continued for the next two decades and resulted in a string of country hits.

A real American idol

"I was driving back from the Louisiana Hayride . I had to pull over and just listen to it," Jones said. "It is a great memory."

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Jones, who performs in Gillette next week, grew up in Texas when radio was still the place many singers were discovered. In the late '40s he played on stations in Jasper and Beaumont, but put his singing career on hold Nike Windrunner Orange

In 1969, Jones married country singer Tammy Wynette, and the couple recorded several best selling duets. But while his marriage to Wynette only lasted six Nike Long Sleeve Tee

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"I am pretty sure she meant it," he added.

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"It evokes so much feeling from people," Jones said. "I have had people say to me that they remembered where they were the first time they heard that song, like when President Kennedy was shot or Elvis Presley died. That is pretty powerful."

At 80 years old, country music legend George Jones isn't part of the young demographic the Nike Windrunner Hoodie

Jones' great reputation as a singer was, unfortunately, tarnished for much of his career by his heavy drinking and an addiction to cocaine that began in the 1970s. In 1979 he missed more than 50 concerts and became infamously known in country music circles as "No Show Jones."

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In 1980 Sherrill, Jones said, actually had to talk him into recording "He Stopped Loving Her Today," which remains his best known song. Written by Bobby Braddock and Curly Putman, it relates the story Nike Jacket Black And Grey of a man who never forgot his long lost love until the day he died. The woman attends the funeral, and Jones sings, "And it kept running through my mind/This time he's over her for good."

The song won several CMA honors, including single of the year, and earned Jones a Grammy for best male country vocal performance.

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With his trademark buzz cut in his early years and the nickname Possum given to him by a co worker who claimed he resembled the animal one wonders what the "American Idol" audience or the judges would have made of Jones. His country singing would have likely been popular in any era, as his more than 150 songs that have hit the charts since 1955 aptly demonstrate.

The singer has won numerous awards, including the Kennedy Center Honors and the National Medal of Arts. But it's his 1992 induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame that he said was most gratifying.

Jones performs only about 60 concerts a year, and has rarely played in Wyoming. Passionate views, pointed criticism and critical thinking are welcome. Name calling, crude language and personal abuse are not welcome. Moderators will monitor comments with an eye toward maintaining a high level of civility in this forum. Our comment policy explains the rules of the road for registered commenters.

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producers of "American Idol" aim to attract. But he and his wife (and manager), Nancy, are loyal fans of the hit TV singing competition.

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for a stint in the Marines.

"We love to see the good, the bad and the ugly," Jones said, laughing. "It can be very entertaining in the first few episodes of a season, but then they weed out all those who really need to choose another profession and the real talent comes out.

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