AP has confirmed that country legend George Jones has died at the age of 81.
According to his publicist Kirt Webster, Jones died at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tenn. after being brought in with fever and irregular blood pressure.
In a career that spanned more than 50 years, Jones released over 100 albums and secured top-charting songs in five separate decades (‘50s to ‘90s).
Perhaps his most well known single, however, is the heart-breaking “He Stopped Loving Her Today,” which netted him a spot in Rolling Stone magazine’s 2004 list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. The song was originally penned by Bobby Braddock and Curly Putman.
Born in Saratoga, Texas, Jones began his music career by playing guitar on the streets for tips. After a stint in the U.S. Marine Corps, he scored his first number one hit in 1959 with “White Lightning.” According to a press release by his PR company Webster & Associates, Jones would ultimately record more than 160 charting singles, more than any other artist in any format in the history of popular music.
A singer who truly lived up to the hard-living content of his songs, Jones struggled with alcohol and cocaine addiction for long stretches of his career. He was married three times—once, famously, to fellow country superstar Tammy Wynette— before finally settling down with his fourth wife, Nancy Sepulvado in 1983. Sepulvado became Jones’ manager and is credited with helping him overcome his alcoholism and drug problems.
Jones was inducted in the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1992 and was awarded the Kennedy Center Honor for lifetime achievement in 2008.
Jones continued to tour and perform right up until near his death. Titled “The Grand Tour,” 2013’s tour cycle was to be his last, culminating with a star-packed show at Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena on November 22, 2013. The show’s guest star roster included the likes of Alan Jackson, Garth Brooks, Randy Travis, Charlie Daniels, Kenny Rogers, Sam Moore, The Oak Ridge Boys.
Besides his massive influence on the world of country music, Jones was beloved and extolled by the likes of Frank Sinatra, Pete Townshend of The Who, James Taylor and Elvis Costello (among countless others).