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In the vein of the classic Johnny Cash: The Life, this groundbreaking work explores the wild life and extraordinary musical career of “the definitive country singer of the last half century” (New York Times), who influenced, among others, Bob Dylan, Buck Owens, Emmylou Harris, John Fogerty, George Strait, Alan Jackson, and Garth Brooks.
In a masterful biography laden with new revelations, veteran country music journalist/historian Rich Kienzle offers a definitive, full-bodied portrait of legendary country singer George Jones and the music that remains his legacy. Kienzle meticulously sifted through archival material, government records, recollections by colleagues and admirers, interviewing many involved in Jones’s life and career. The result: an evocative portrait of this enormously gifted, tragically tormented icon called “the Keith Richards of country.”
Kienzle chronicles Jones’s impoverished East Texas childhood as the youngest son of a deeply religious mother and alcoholic, often-abusive father. He examines his three troubled marriages including his union with superstar Tammy Wynette and looks unsparingly at Jones’s demons. Alcohol and later cocaine nearly killed him until fourth wife Nancy helped him learn to love himself. Kienzle also details Jones’s remarkable musical journey from singing in violent Texas honky tonks to Grand Ole Opry star, hitmaker and master vocalist whose raw, emotionally powerful delivery remains the Gold Standard for country singers.
The George Jones of this heartfelt biography lived hard before finding contentment until he died at eighty-one—a story filled with whiskey, women and drugs but always the saving grace of music.
Illustrated with eight pages of photos.
Veteran country music critic, journalist, and historian Rich Kienzle is the author of Southwest Shuffle: Pioneers of Honky-Tonk, Western Swing, and Country Jazz and Great Guitarists: The Most Influential Players in Blues, Country Music, Jazz and Rock. A contributing editor and columnist at Country Music magazine for nearly twenty-five years, he also edited their history publication The Journal. He was formerly a contributing editor at No Depression and Guitar World and is now a regular contributor to Vintage Guitar Magazine. His work has appeared in Fretboard Journal, Guitar Player, Request, The Journal of Country Music, and the Austin American-Statesman. The author of liner notes for almost four hundred reissue albums, Kienzle is among the few country journalists profiled in The Grove Dictionary of American Music. He received the International Country Music Conference’s Charlie Lamb Award for Excellence in Country Music Journalism in 2012.