(Photo credit:  Steven S. Harman / The Tennessean)
From the April 27, 2013 edition of The Tennessean – Cindy Watts Reports:
When John
Rich heard of George Jones’ passing on Friday morning, he asked his
wife for a glass of room-temperature Crown and an hour to himself. He
took the glass out to his roof-top deck, sat down facing Vanderbilt
University Medical Center and pictured a beam of light transporting the
legendary country singer up to heaven.
thoughts assimilated, he called his friend, country stalwart Larry
Gatlin, to see if Gatlin would get dressed up and join him Friday
evening for their own private Jones memorial at Rich’s house. After
Gatlin agreed, Rich tweeted their plans. The Tennessean saw his tweet
and asked to join. Gatlin and Rich agreed.
the wall beside the elevator, Rich proudly pointed out a framed
hand-written lyric sheet of “He Stopped Loving Her Today” signed by
Jones. As of today, the country singer says it’s cemented to his wall.
Pictures of Rich with Jones adorned his elevator. He walked into the bar
area of his home where Gatlin was waiting. The men, both in their
Sunday best, lit up cigars, took their seats, and what ensued was two
hours of music, memories and sometimes tears in honor of the man both
Rich and Gatlin refer to as only Mr. Jones.
not going to be sad, we’re going to celebrate the Possum,” Gatlin said,
sipping on orange juice, then explained he never called him that to his
never called him Possum or George in my life,” Gatlin said as Jones’
music played in the background. Rich agreed. “You can after the fact.
But he was Mr. Jones.”
recalled the funniest thing Jones ever told him. He said Jones visited a
bar he used to own downtown. Jones walked in “chomping on his chewing
gum” and said: “ ‘John, all those bottles belong to you?’ I said, ‘Yes
sir, they do.’ He said, ‘My God, son. It’s a good thing we both weren’t
young at the same time.’ I said, ‘Why is that, George?’ He said,
‘Because one or both of us would be dead by now.’”
fondly remembered Jones coming to parties at his house and appearing in
one of his music videos riding a lawnmower on his roof.
the news of Jones’ death, Rich got a call he wasn’t expecting: Jones’
wife Nancy called to tell Rich her husband loved him.
was shook bad and she was crying,” Rich recalled. “And I said, ‘Why are
you calling me? You don’t need to worry about calling people like me.’
She said, ‘You don’t understand. George loved you.’”
Jones’ passing, Gatlin wrote him a song for his final album he hoped
would be for Jones’ what “My Way” was for Frank Sinatra. He never got
the opportunity to record it, but Gatlin said he plans to record it for
his friend.
Gatlin said: “Every gutbucket country song I ever wrote, I had George Jones singing in my ear.”
Gatlin took the guitar out of Rich’s hand and played the song.
“How many songs you think will be written today about George Jones?” Gatlin asked.
today and this coming week, that’s all Music Row is going to be writing
about,” Rich said. “Whether it’s about him or inspired by him, George
Jones will impact the entire industry again. To think that you broke an
entire genre’s heart. Anyone who respects music respects George Jones.”

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