George Jones, the country music Hall of Famer best known for his heartbreaking hit "He Stopped Loving Her Today," died Friday after being hospitalized last week. He was 81.
Jones was hospitalized April 18 with a fever and irregular blood pressure,
and died Friday at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, publicist Kirt Webster told People.
With five No. 1 hits spread over five decades, 1950s to 1990s, and 150 albums, Jones was idolized by the likes of Frank Sinatra, Pete Townshend, Elvis Costello, and James Taylor, along with scores of country music greats who looked up to him. Sinatra once called him "the second greatest singer in America." Keith Richards called him "a national treasure."
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"With George Jones, I think it started out as a gift from God and then they built a body around it because anybody who has ever wanted to sing country music wants to sound like George Jones," Garth Brooks once said.
Jones is survived by his wife of 30 years Nancy Jones, his sister Helen Scroggins, and by his children, grandchildren, nieces, and nephews.
Jones was born to a modest family in Saratoga, Texas, and went through his share of hard times, struggling with addiction and problems with the law.
He missed dozens of shows in the late 1970s (living up to his nickname "No Show Jones"), and in 1979 his addictions landed him in an Alabama psychiatric hospital. In 1980, he led police on a televised chase through Nashville. In 1999, he crashed his car into a Nashville bridge and nearly died.
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But his struggles never kept him from creating historic country music. He was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1992, was a Kennedy Center Honoree in 2008, and received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award last year.
He was in the process of ending his seven-decade career Grand Tour, with his final Nashville concert planned for November.
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