The Fine Arts Center at East Arkansas Community College will present legendary country music icon George Jones on Saturday, February 23rd at 7:00 p.m. as part of the 2012 – 2013 Spotlight Series.
More than 35 years ago, George Jones recorded “Who’s Gonna Fill Their Shoes,” a song that wondered aloud whether newcomers would come along that could possibly walk in the footsteps of the progenitors and giants of country music. Frank Sinatra famously (and coyly) referred to Jones as “the second greatest singer in America.” Garth Brooks summed up the consensus view when he called him “the greatest voice ever to sing country music.” Waylon Jennings expressed a common jealousy when he said, "If we all could sound the way we wanted, we'd all sound like George Jones." Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones put things in more honorific terms: "George Jones is a national treasure and should be treated accordingly.”
Jones has received the four highest honors that can be granted to anyone in his line of work, starting with his induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1992. Ten years later, President George W. Bush bestowed the National Medal of Arts upon him. In yet another executive-branch moment, Jones was saluted by the Kennedy Center Honors in 2008. In February of 2012, Jones got another top honor to round out music’s most enviable trophy shelf, as the Grammys presented him with their Lifetime Achievement Award.
Affectionately known to his fans as “Possum,” Jones has had a run of hit songs extending from the mid-1950s into the 21st century. In addition to all of his awards, he has amassed a whopping 143 Top 40 country hits.
At first, Jones was known as a good-time guy and honky-tonk man. He even recorded some rockabilly early in his career. He was a co-writer on his first chart hit, 1955’s “Why Baby Why.” His first No. 1 hit, 1959’s “White Lightning,” was a blur of hilarious tics and hiccups that established him as a vocal marvel but hardly hinted at the master balladeer to come.
After Jones paired up with producer Billy Sherrill in the 1970s and ‘80s, their work together exemplified the lusciously string-drenched style known as country-politan. One outright weeper, 1980’s “He Stopped Loving Her Today,” became widely regarded as the greatest country single of all time, to go along with the best-in-class kudos racked up by its singer.
Fifty-six years after being named the Most Promising New Country Vocalist of 1956, Jones still lives out that promise with a regular touring routine. Audiences still flock to hear the voice that is country’s most indescribable as well as, by acclamation, the finest.
Now that’s he has picked up his latest career-encompassing trophy, the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, Jones is having to carve out a little more shelf space in his Franklin, Tennessee home. It’s one more honor to tell about if he ever writes a sequel to “I Lived to Tell It All.”
Tickets for the George Jones Farewell Tour are $35 and go on sale Monday, January 14th and are available online at www.eacc.edu or by calling 870-633-4480 ext. 352. The EACC Fine Arts Center is located at 1700 Newcastle Road in Forrest City right off of I-40.