Country Music Singer and Songwriter. He is probably best remembered for his hit single “He Stopped Loving Her Today” and for his tumultuous marriage to famed country singer Tammy Wynette. Additionally, his musical career would be marked by frequent bouts of alcoholism and cocaine use and his wild lifestyle led to him missing many of his performances and earning the dubious nickname “No Show Jones.” Also nicknamed “The Possum,” supposedly for his facial resemblance to the animal.
Birth: Sep. 12, 1931
Death: Apr. 26, 2013
Country Music Singer and Songwriter. He is probably best remembered for his hit single “He Stopped Loving Her Today” and for his tumultuous marriage to famed country singer Tammy Wynette. Additionally, his musical career would be marked by frequent bouts of alcoholism and cocaine use and his wild lifestyle led to him missing many of his performances and earning the dubious nickname “No Show Jones.” Also nicknamed “The Possum,” supposedly for his facial resemblance to the animal, he was raised in poverty in Vidor, Texas with his brother and five sisters by an alcoholic and sometimes violent father. At the age of seven his parents bought a radio and he heard country music for the first time. When he was nine years old, he received his first guitar and soon started playing for money on the streets and clubs of Beaumont, Texas. He left home at the age of 16 and went to Jasper, Texas where he performed on a local radio station. He married Dorothy Bonvillion in 1950 at the age of 19 but they divorced within a year and he enlisted in the US Marine Corps, spending his entire military time in California. After his military service he returned to Texas and was discovered by Starday Records co-owner Pappy Daily, who guided his early career. He remarried in 1954 to Shirley Ann Corely and recorded his first single, “No Money’s in This Deal,” but it failed to chart. The following year his single “Why, Baby, Why” became a hit and he moved to Nashville, Tennessee in 1959 and recorded his first number 1 hit “White Lightning.” For the next two years he continued to record number 1 singles, with “Tender Years” (1961) and “She Thinks I Still Care” (1962). His next number 1 hit would not come for another five years, with “Walk Through This World With Me’ (1967). In 1968 he divorced his second wife and married country singer Tammy Wynette the following year, with whom he had a daughter, creating a “country couple” that would record a sequence of albums and singles topping the charts throughout the 1970s and early 1980s. Their marriage was stormy at best due largely to his alcoholism and they divorced in March 1975 but continued to work together professionally through 1980. From 1973 to 1983 he racked up number 1 singles with “We’re Gonna Hold On” (1973, with Tammy Wynette), “The Grand Tour” (1974), “The Door” (1975), “Golden Ring” (1976, with Tammy Wynette), “Near You” (1977, with Tammy Wynette), “He Stopped Loving Her Today” (1980), “I Was Country When Country Wasn’t Cool” (1981, with Barbara Mandrell), “Still Doin’ Time” (1981), “Yesterday’s Wine” (1982, with Merle Haggard), and “I Always Get Lucky with You” (1983). In March 1983 he married his fourth and final wife, Nancy Sepulvado, who became his manager and is credited with rescuing him from alcohol and drug abuse. He continued to record and tour throughout the 1990s despite no longer being a significant presence on modern country radio. He was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1992 and in June 1997 he released his autobiography “I Lived to Tell It All.” He was named a Kennedy Center Honoree in 2008 and in 2012 he was presented with a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. He was a member of Nashville’s Grand Ole Opry from 1956 until his death. He died at the age of 81 after being admitted to the Vanderbilt University Medical Center for a fever and irregular blood pressure.