egendary country superstar George Jones, whose decades-spanning career included hits like "White Lightning," "The Grand Tour," and "He Stopped Loving Her Today," died in Nashville today at age 81.
Jones, who was commonly referred to by fans as "The Possum," had a long and tumultuous life and career, releasing numerous songs that were directly inspired by his personal demons. Over the course of his life, Jones endured a lengthy and public battle with addictions to both alcohol and cocaine, along with three divorces — all of which he wrote and sang about with great candor in many of his most popular and beloved hits.
Last year, Jones announced that he'd do a string of farewell performances in "The Grand Tour," which would have taken him to more than 60 American cities. Though he passed away before the farewell tour was scheduled to begin, Jones leaves behind a treasure trove of memorable performances that ensure he'll continue to amass new fans in the years to come. A look at a few of his best:
"White Lightning" (1965)
A performance of Jones' first major hit, "White Lightning," which topped Billboard's country music charts for five weeks following its release in 1959.
"The Grand Tour" (1974)
One of Jones' most memorable and popular songs, "The Grand Tour" tackles the pain of divorce — a pain which Jones, who had already been through two divorces when the song was released, knew very well.
"Golden Ring" (1977)
During his six-year-long third marriage to fellow country superstar, the late Tammy Wynette, Jones collaborated with Wynette on numerous popular and enduring country duets. This performance of "Golden Ring" came two years after the couple divorced.
"He Stopped Loving Her Today" (1980)
The song widely credited with reviving Jones' declining popularity, "He Stopped Loving Her Today" earned him a Grammy Award for Best Male Country Vocal Performance.
"If Drinkin' Don't Kill Me" (1998)
Jones wrote and sang candidly about his alcoholism in many songs — including "If Drinkin' Don't Kill Me," which he performs here as part of a late-90s TV series.
"I Don't Need Your Rockin' Chair" (2011)
As recently as 2011, Jones was still performing to rapturous audiences. Here, he takes the stage at the Grand Ole Opry alongside fellow artists including Alan Jackson, Joe Diffie, and Eric Lee Beddingfield.
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- Why atheism doesn't have the upper hand over religion
- The world's dumbest idea: Taxing solar energy
- 31 TV shows to watch in 2014
- 10 things you need to know today: April 19, 2014
- He said he was leaving. She ignored him.
- Attack of the invasive species
- 14 wonderful words with no English equivalent
- Why would a young person today be religious?
- Which states get screwed worst by the Electoral College?
- Why we can't stop procrastinating, according to science
Subscribe to the Week