George Jones

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Posted January 15, 2009 in

George Jones is the living embodiment of hard country, a figure whose combination of peerless artistry and mad dog hell raising have earned him the universally acknowledged title of King of Country Music. In Jones’ case, it was particularly hard earned; his poverty stricken childhood, exacerbated by an abusive father, was a study in misery, but music was his refuge. By age ten, Jones was regularly found singing on the streets of Beaumont, Texas, taking a path that led to the Lone Star beer joint circuit, a contract with Starday Records and, ultimately, international acclaim and a spot in the Country Music Hall of Fame. With a catalog of some 60 number one hits, a Jones set list plays like a retrospective of modern honky tonk’s finest moments, from raw mid-1950’s howlers “Why, Baby, Why” and “White Lightnin’” to his evocative early ’60s break out “The Race is On” through his 1970’s series of excruciatingly perfected ballads at Epic Records. There, with producer Billy Sherrill, Jones raised the standard for exquisite hillbilly agony (listen to “The Grand Tour,” baby, and there’ll be a tear in your beer) and despite a taste for booze and cocaine so voracious that he dwindled down to a puny 90 pounds, Jones’ emotionally-charged recorded output only intensified. By the early ’90s, the ornery little bugger claimed to have quit cold turkey, but, after years of trumpeting his sobriety, a near fatal 1995 SUV crack up was attributed mainly to the bottle of vodka which cops found stashed under the front seat. Jones responded by quickly recording and releasing the chilling single “Choices,” title track of one of the best albums he’d made in years, and he has not faltered since. Jones ain’t gettin any younger, so act accordingly. (Jonny Whiteside)

 

George Jones at San Manuel Indian Bingo and Casino, 777 San Manuel Blvd., Highland, (800) 359-2464; Thurs., Jan. 22, doors at 6:30PM; Tickets $25-$45

 


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