George Jones when he and Tammy Wynette were touring together at the heights of their "Mr. and Mrs. Country Music" power in 1974.
That was at Tucson Civic Center and I was amazed by their ability to perfectly recreate their recorded vocal gymnastics live, not missing a single note. Some fifteen years later I was to Emcee a Fremont, California, nightclub show by Jones.
He was very gracious to me, a young radio personality, and his many fans in a pre-show meet and greet with radio contest winners.
So, as I stood on the bandstand at the microphone a few minutes later all set with a glowing introduction to bring him onstage I was shocked to see George's tour bus starting up and heading out. I told the crowd, "if you want to see George Jones tonight, I think we had better head out the front door right now and wave goodbye to him."
We did. One concertgoer was heard to say that night "I've been to see George Jones three times and have yet to see George Jones."
Later I learned that what happened that evening wasn't due to his legendary struggles with substance abuse.
Back in the 1950's George had performed a great show for the club owner who paid him with a bad check. So, Jones had come to Fremont in the late 1980's to get a good check from him and pick up a bit of revenge.
So great was his talent and skill that we who loved him and his music in spite of his sometimes mean and violent side were always willing to show up in hopes that he would not disappoint.
That's why it's so seemingly "normal" now to reread the press release in light of his death yesterday (click to see it) announcing his final tour, culminating in a quickly-sold out November Bridgestone Arena date.
He had long since had to postpone last week's Huntsville date and reschedule it due to ill health, yet that date also rapidly sold out.
It's my hope that the promoters will keep that November 22 Music City date, which was to have featured a list of music's biggest stars paying tribute to Possum.
As in the past, we'd all be there, knowing that in spirit and memory at least, George Jones will be as well.
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