He’ll be “No Show Jones” forevermore — George Jones died today.
Early in his career, Jones tried to sing like his idol Hank Williams. I once had a cassette of early Jones material and he practically mimicked Williams.
But Jones found his own voice. And what a voice. His unique style defined country-and-western vocalists for decades.
I saw Jones a few years back at Bass Hall. The venue didn’t allow you to drink beer while watching the show, and it was tough to listen to Jones sing about drinking and carousing for two hours without being in a honkytonk doing the same thing.
After the show, my group practically sprinted to the nearest bar. The Possum’s spirit was contagious.
Jones was mentioned in a story I wrote about Billy Bob’s Texas a couple of years ago (“Honkytonk Heroes,” March 30, 2011).
Here’s an anecdote that didn’t make it into that story: Billy Bob Barnett and his sidekick Hub Baker once signed a short-lived management contract with Jones.
“George was out on Eagle Mountain Lake over at David McDavid’s house and they got tired of messing with him and they sent him by boat over to my house and the next thing I knew I was managing George,” Barnett recalled. “We tried to help him the best we could. We did 13 shows with him and he showed up to all 13 and that was quite a challenge. Artist management…well, it’s a people business as they say. He was too much of a challenge for me. It was easier to manage bulls than entertainers.”
Tonight I’ll lift a cold one to Jones.