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5 things to know about country legend George Jones

Saturday - 4/27/2013, 11:44pm  ET

FILE - In this Sept. 12, 2006 file photo, Country music legend George Jones waves to the crowd during his 75th birthday celebration at the Grand Ole Opry House in Nashville, Tenn., on Tuesday, Sept. 12, 2006. From left are Joe Diffie; Jones' wife, Nancy; Craig Morgan; Jones; Tanya Tucker; and Joe Nichols. Jones, the peerless, hard-living country singer who recorded dozens of hits about good times and regrets and peaked with the heartbreaking classic "He Stopped Loving Her Today," has died. He was 81. Jones died Friday, April 26, 2013 at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville after being hospitalized with fever and irregular blood pressure, according to his publicist Kirt Webster.(AP Photo/Mark Humphrey, file)

CHRIS TALBOTT
AP Music Writer

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- Five things to know about country music superstar George Jones, who died Friday at 81:

1. THE VOICE

The only debate over the decades has been who has the second-best voice in country music. Or maybe just music. His voice could get your party rolling and end it by making you cry. Merle Haggard puts it best: "The world has lost the greatest country singer of all time. Amen."

2. THE SONG

Not only did he have The Voice, but Jones also recorded many archetypal country songs, including the one widely acknowledged as the best: "He Stopped Loving Her Today." Written by fellow Country Music Hall of Fame member Bobby Braddock and Curly Putnam, the blue-flame weeper won a Grammy and took the Country Music Association's song of the year -- twice.

3. THE PROBLEMS

Jones was almost as famous for his problems as he was his music. Stories about epic alcohol and drug binges circulate around Nashville and his marital problems were titillating folks on Music Row long before tabloids trolled for content.

4. THE HUMOR

Jones had a devilish sense of humor and he was never afraid to turn it on himself. The singer famously hopped aboard a riding lawn mower a couple of times when in search of drink and parodied the moment in not only his own music video, but in those for Hank Williams Jr., Vince Gill and John Rich, too. Punch the words "George Jones lawn mower video" into your favorite search engine.

5. THE LEGACY

Jones reflected real life in his music and lived it as well. His troubles, made public with unsparing self analysis, only made his songs seem more real. As Brad Paisley wrote Friday, Jones helped us see "that it is not the stumble or fall that counts, but the willingness to stand again."

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Follow AP Music Writer Chris Talbott: http://twitter.com/Chris_Talbott.


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