There are few country music icons, alive or dead, who have had a greater reach or influence than George Jones. Many (if not most) country artists today will cite Jones as an inspiration, and many have called him the greatest country artist alive today. He became a member of the Grand Ole Opry in 1956, and a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1992, and became a Kennedy Center Honoree in 2008.
Now, after over about 60 studio recordings, 150-plus hits (including over a dozen number ones), and a career spanning nearly six decades, George Jones, 80, is announcing a final tour for 2013.
The tour (which is being announced under the moniker “The Grand Tour”) will include 60 tour dates which have not yet been finalized. The tour will also center around a new album to be released next year (also unfinalized, but Dolly Parton is reportedly contributing songs for the record).
Jones is known for regular touring even into his later years, but recently had to cancel some tour dates due to a respiratory infection. He’s back on the road now, but has explained that he wants to spend more time with family. In a statement released Tuesday, Jones said, “It is tough to stop doing what I love, but the time has come.”
Despite his status as a country icon, George Jones’ reputation was not always stellar. In his earlier days, he was widely known for his alcoholism and wild lifestyle (in the tradition of Hank Williams), and earned the unfortunate nickname “No-Show Jones” for frequently missing concert dates. The alcoholism, combined with cocaine use starting in the 1970s, nearly killed him, and he even spent time in a psychiatric hospital as a result. However, he turned a corner and survived both the substance abuse and the damage to his reputation. Jones credits his current wife Nancy for helping him become clean and sober.
As more details of the upcoming farewell tour come available, we’ll be sure to pass them on. The Grand Tour is certain to be a piece of country music history that fans will not want to miss.