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With his farewell tour underway, country music legend George Jones took time off from the road this morning (Feb. 27) to speak to high-school students about his storied career and the temptations of fame. George was the guest of his granddaughter Breann, who asked her famous papaw to speak to her music-history class. Country Weekly tagged along with the Possum, riding with George from his house outside Nashville to the nearby school where he fielded questions from the kids.
And nothing was off limits, as George, looking fit and relaxed, readily answered questions about his hard-partying past, his alcohol abuse and the now mythic story of his ill-fated lawnmower ride in search of more booze.
“I jumped out the window, and sure enough the key was in it. It cranked right up and I took off to town,” he recalled, going on to warn the students of the dangers of alcohol and drugs. “These are things that are dumb, and then again, you don’t know why you do them, but you get overwhelmed with smelling people’s breath of whiskey. It just got the best of me, and it’ll do that to entertainers if you’re not strong. . . . And if you want to grow up and be very successful, stay one step ahead and keep your mind clear and know what you’re doing, because you do know right from wrong.”
George is gearing up for his last-ever show, Nov. 22 at Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena, a dazzling all-star tribute to the Country Music Hall of Famer featuring Garth Brooks, Kid Rock, The Oak Ridge Boys, Dierks Bentley, Tanya Tucker and others. (Tickets are on sale now.) He even hopes to record an album with some of the guests.
“I’d like to get with some of these artists and do a double album of duets,” George shares.
Look for more on the inimitable George Jones, his day going back to school and his retirement from the road in a future issue of Country Weekly.