Country legend George Jones is hanging up is touring hat. After 50 years out on the road, he’s doing one final lap of 60 cities on “The Grand Tour,” which stopped in Joliet at the Rialto Square Theater on March 15. (All photos by Andy Argyrakis.)
George Jones' career began in 1954, and during his six decades as a professional singer/songwriter, he was one of the most financially successful country music artists ever. Jones would record over 900 songs, and chart more than any other music artist, almost exclusively on the country charts; Jones never charted a hit in the general top 40 of the or any equivalent all-genre chart. As a solo artist, Jones had just three hits make the Billboard Hot 100, the highest-charted of which, "White Lightning", peaked at #73. (A duet with also made #99 for one week.) On the country charts, Jones (either solo or as part of duet) placed nearly 150 songs on the charts, including thirteen #1 country hits.
|Country Catalog Albums March 19th, 2016|
Playlist: The Very Best Of George Jones
David Cantwell recalled in 2013, "His approach to singing, he told me once, was to call up those memories and feelings of his own that most closely corresponded to those being felt by the character in whatever song he was performing. He was a kind of singing method actor, creating an illusion of the real." In the liner notes to Rich Kienzle states, "Jones sings of people and stories that are achingly human. He can turn a ballad into a catharsis by wringing every possible emotion from it, making it a primal, strangled cry of anguish". In 1994, country music historian Colin Escott pronounced, "Contemporary country music is virtually founded on reverence for George Jones. Walk through a room of country singers and conduct a quick poll, George nearly always tops it." In the wake of Jones's death, Merle Haggard pronounced in , "His voice was like a Stradivarius violin: one of the greatest instruments ever made." wrote, "...when you hear George Jones sing, you are hearing a man who takes a song and makes it a work of art - always," a quote that appeared on the sleeve of Jones' 1976 album . In the documentary , several country music stars offer similar thoughts. Johnny Cash: "When people ask me who my favorite country singer is, I say, 'You mean besides George Jones?'"; Randy Travis: "It sounds like he's lived every minute of every word that he sings and there's very few people who can do that"; : "It was always Jones who got the message across just right"; and Roy Acuff: "I'd give anything if I could sing like George Jones". In the same film, producer Billy Sherrill states, "All I did was change the instrumentation around him. I don't think he's changed ."
Shortly after Jones' death, Andrew Mueller wrote about his influence in , "He was one of the finest interpretive singers who ever lifted a microphone...There cannot be a single country songwriter of the last 50-odd years who has not wondered what it might be like to hear their words sung by that voice." In an article for in 1994, Nick Tosches eloquently described the singer's vocal style: "While he and his idol, Hank Williams, have both affected generations with a plaintive veracity of voice that has set them apart, Jones has an additional gift—a voice of exceptional range, natural elegance, and lucent tone. Gliding toward high tenor, plunging toward deep bass, the magisterial portamento of his onward-coursing baritone emits white-hot sparks and torrents of blue, investing his poison love songs with a tragic gravity and inflaming his celebrations of the honky-tonk ethos with the hellfire of abandon." In the essay "Why George Jones Ranks with Frank Sinatra and Billie Holiday," David Hajdu writes: