Nashville, TN (September 16, 2011) – George Jones – a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame – is a music icon, frequently referred to as “the greatest living country singer” celebrated his 80th birthday at a party in Nashville this week with some of his closest celebrity friends. Those in attendance included Travis Tritt, Billy Joe Shaver, Jason Michael Carroll, Bryan White, Joe Diffie, Guy Penrod, The Kentucky Headhunters, Elaine Roy of The Roys, Jamie Dailey of Dailey & Vincent, The McClymonts, Ken Mellons, Billy Yates, TG Sheppard, Billy Gilman, John Conlee, Jeanne Pruett, Jack Greene, Bo Bice, Eddy Raven, David Lee Murphy, among others. Wayne Newton sent a special jazz trio to perform and read a special note.
Born in a log cabin on an oil patch settlement in a remote East Texas region known as the Big Thicket, Jones found early refuge in music from the rages of an alcoholic father. As a child, George sang for tips in the streets of Beaumont, Texas, where, at an early age, he moved with his parents into a government-subsidized housing project. Roy Acuff, Hank Williams, and Lefty Frizzell comprised Jones’s youthful triumvirate of influences.
Jones launched his recording career in the early 1950s, and with the turn of the twenty-first century he is still going strong. It is more than sheer longevity, or the almost near religious purity of his hard-core country instincts, that has made him such a towering, influential figure. In many ways, Jones is one of country music’s last vital links to its own rural past—a relic from a long-gone time and place before cable TV, FM rock radio and shopping malls; an era when life still revolved around the Primitive Baptist Church, the honky-tonk down the road, and Saturday nights listening to the Grand Ole Opry on the radio. The fact that Jones has changed little over the years, and at times seems to be genuinely bewildered by the immensity of his own talent and the acclaim it has brought him, has merely enhanced his credibility.