Jones began his life in music busking on the streets of Beaumont, Texas after picking up a guitar at age 9. After a stint in the United States Marine Corps, Jones began to focus exclusively on his music career. He scored his first hit single in 1959 with “White Lightning,” and country music was never the same. By the end of his career, Jones had released 160 charting singles, more than any other musician has ever done.
Despite a reputation for hard living and a number of high-profile divorces, Jones was still revered in the country music community. An oft-repeated quote attributed to Waylon Jennings says that if everyone sang the way they wanted to sound, everyone would sound like George Jones. In 1992, Jones was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame, and he was a recipient of the Kennedy Center Honors in 2008.
This year was supposed to be Jones’ farewell tour, culminating with a final show that was to be held in Nashville in November.
Jones is survived by Nancy Jones, his wife of 30 years, his four children, and his sister Helen Scroggins.