Possum Facts: The Legend of George Jones
George was nearly as famous for the outsized stories that seemed to follow him as he was for his sterling voice. Here’s a few that came to define him.
“No Show Jones”
After allegedly missing more than 50 shows due to alcohol and drug use, George earned the nickname “No Show Jones.”
It’s rumored that clubs, knowing this reputation, would put his name on the show bill without actually booking him in order to draw a crowd, but hoping patrons would dismiss his absence as typical erratic behavior.
The good-natured country star poked fun at his wayward behavior in the song “No Show Jones.”
George’s second wife, Shirley, would hide the keys to all of their cars so he couldn’t go buy more liquor, but still he found a way—the riding lawn-mower. When he was married to Tammy Wynette, the story repeated itself, only Tammy tracked him down at a bar where he had driven the mower 10 miles.
Short “Choices” ShortChanged
Nominated for Single of the Year at the 1999 CMA Awards, George boycotted the show when producers told him to shorten his nominated hit, “Choices.” A mild-mannered longtime pal of George’s, Alan Jackson, was so upset by the CMA’s mandate that as he neared the end of his performance of “Pop-a-Top,” his band stopped and he finished with “Choices” in a show of solidarity with the legend.
The Other Jones
Early in his career, George recorded a handful of rockabilly tunes under the name “Thumper” Jones. He chose to go with an alias so that his real name wasn’t attached to a rock ’n’ roll project. Neither “Dadgum It How Come It” or “Rock It” had any chart success; however, 45s have been spotted on eBay.
- When George was born in Saratoga, Texas the doctor dropped him and broke his arm.
- George’s favorite guitar is a Gene Autry model with a horse and lariat on it that his father bought him as a boy.
- George’s first paid gig was playing for spare change at age 11 on a shoeshine stand outside a penny arcade. He made $24.
- After George won a talent contest three times at the Jefferson Theatre in Beaumont, Texas, theater owners banned him from competition. They gave him a job as an usher instead.
- George picked up the nickname “Possum” because of the crewcut he wore in the ’50s.
- George has been married four times, including six years to Tammy Wynette. He met his present wife of 16 years, Nancy Sepulvado, on a blind date.
- When George recorded “He Stopped Loving Her Today,” he hated it so much that he bet his producer $100 it wouldn’t go to No. 1. He lost.
- George’s license plates read “NO SHOW,” “NO SHOW 1,” “NO SHOW 2” etc.
- B.B. King and Keith Richards of The Rolling Stones have sung duets with George.
- George is the only country artist to have placed songs on the chart in five different decades.
- Life magazine has ranked him No. 11 among The 100 Most Important People in the History of Country Music.
- After George’s March crash, the Tennessee Department of Transportation sent him a bill for $2,492.44, to repair the bridge struck by his Lexus.