George Jones died Friday at age 81, after being treated at the Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville for fever and irregular blood pressure, according to his publicist.
From the Associated Press:
Known for his clenched, precise baritone, Jones had No. 1 songs in five separate decades, 1950s to 1990s, and was idolized not just by fellow country singers, but by Frank Sinatra, Pete Townshend, Elvis Costello, James Taylor and countless others.
In a career that lasted more than 50 years, "Possum" recorded more than 150 albums and became the champion and symbol of traditional country music, a well-lined link to his hero, Hank Williams.
Jones famously married fellow country icon Tammy Wynette in 1969. They divorced in 1975, and Jones, then a cocaine addict, began dating Nancy Sepulvado in 1981. She helped him get sober, became his fourth wife and manager, and they remained married until his death. Jones wrote about their relationship in his memoir I Lived to Tell It All:
I quit drinking and using drugs because I got sick and tired of being sick and tired. My body and mind gave out, and I gave in to anybody or anything that would help me get sober.
I got so far down that I would have been willing to move to a reservation and eat herbs and roots if that would have guaranteed sobriety. But I didn't have to do that. I only had to yield to a good woman's love.
They say love can change the world. I'm here to testify that it changed one man. Friends, family, doctors, therapists and ministers had tried to save me, but to no avail. But finally the power of love from one woman, Nancy Jones, made the difference.
Last August, Jones announced a 60-date final concert tour ending on Nov. 22, 2013, in Nashville. He was also said to have been recording an album with Dolly Parton.