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Tributes for George Jones, called the greatest country music singer

Friday - 4/26/2013, 4:29pm  ET

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- Garth Brooks calls him "the greatest voice ever to grace country music." Merle Haggard agrees. And Dolly Parton says her "heart is absolutely broken" on hearing the news of the death of George Jones. She calls Jones her "all-time favorite singer."

Tributes are pouring in for Jones, the country music superstar who died today in Nashville at the age of 81, after a year of poor health.

Songwriter Bobby Braddock, who provided Jones with 29 songs over the decades, says, "No one in country music has influenced so many other artists."

Jones did so with a rich, deep and powerful voice. It helped him achieve number-one songs in each of five decades, the 1950s to the 1990s.

He was both a beloved and a sometimes notorious figure in Nashville, where his personal problems were just as legendary as his songs. He had substance abuse problems, and multiple divorces. There were brawls, accidents and close encounters with death -- including bypass surgery and a tour bus crash that he avoided only by deciding at the last moment to take a plane.

He would also become known for failing to appear for concerts -- leaving him with the nickname "No Show Jones."

In his career of more than 50 years, he evolved from a young honky-tonker to an elder statesman, recording more than 50 albums. Along the way, Jones became both a champion and symbol of traditional country music.

%@AP Links

180-a-14-(George Jones, in 1996 AP interview)-"not proud of"-George Jones told the AP in 1996 that it's amazing he ended up having such a great career, considering how much time he missed because of his drinking. (26 Apr 2013)

<> 00:14 "not proud of"

186-r-42-(Sound of George Jones, singing his signature hit "He Stopped Loving Her Today")--Sound of George Jones singing his signature hit "He Stopped Loving Her Today." (26 Apr 2013)

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183-a-08-(George Jones, in 1996 AP interview)-"involving my singing"-George Jones was asked by the AP in 1996 how he wanted to be remembered. (26 Apr 2013)

<> 00:08 "involving my singing"

185-a-13-(Randy Travis, in 2002 AP interview)-"audience goes nuts"-Randy Travis told the AP in 2002 that George Jones was one of a kind. (26 Apr 2013)

<> 00:13 "audience goes nuts"

GRAPHICSBANK: GEORGE JONES, country singer, on texture with 1931-2013 lettering, finished graphic (26 Apr 2013)

APPHOTO NY115: FILE - In this June 1, 1999 file photo, Country music legend George Jones is shown during a performance in Nashville. 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/John Russell, file) (1 Jun 1999)

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APPHOTO TNNAT105: FILE - In this Oct. 13, 1996 file photo, George Jones thanks the crowd after winning Video of the Year for "Who's Gonna Fill Their Shoes" during the CMA Awards show at the Grand Ole Opry House. ones, 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/The Tennessean, Bill Welch) NO SALES (13 Oct 1986)

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