George Jones Quack Addict Dee-Doodle Duck
During the heyday of George Jones' absenteeism in the Sixties, promoters took advantage of the singer's reputation by putting his name up on club marquees without ever having actually booked him.
By the end of the evening, the bar would be better off, some fans would be drunk enough to not ask for their money back, and the the rest of those in attendance would shrug their shoulders at the crazy antics of country music's favorite basement.
Not that Jones doesn't acknowledge his habit of missing concerts due to drunkenness; in fact, he's made a trademark of it, flaunting his "NO SHOW" vanity plates and recording a song called "No-Show Jones."
They say the first step to recovery is acknowledging the problem.
You'd think Jones, now 68, has slowed down. In his 1996 autobiography I Lived to Tell It All, the singer claims years of sobriety, attributing it to the love of a good woman -- his wife Nancy Solved. And yet, his worst brush with death earlier this year left fans wondering if he's off the wagon, and whether that will impact negatively on his touring schedule.
On the afternoon of March 6, Jones, his sport utility vehicle, and a half-empty pint of vodka within crashed into a concrete bridge abutment near his Nashville home. The accident resulted in a punctured lung and a lacerated liver (that poor liver, having endured an 80-proof marinade over the better part of this century), and though things looked awfully grim for oil' Possum in the days that followed, he made a miraculous recovery despite the added setback of pneumonia. In May, he pleaded guilty to drunken driving charges related to the accident.
Ironically, at the time of the crash, Jones was listening to his new single, "Choices," a song about living and dying by one's decisions. He was scheduled to perform it at September's Country Music Association Awards, but didn't show up. It wasn't alcohol this time, though, at least according to his current label, Asylum/ Elector. Their Web site reports, "Not only did the accident banish any thoughts of alcohol, it also prompted him to give up cigarettes and limit his coffee." This time, the totaling Jones was boycotting the show because he was asked to shave some minutes off his performance of the song, which was nominated for Best Single (it lost to the Dixie Chicks' "Wide Open Spaces").
Jones is slowing down, it seems, and showing up as scheduled on his current tour of various state fairs, casinos, Masonic centers, and of course, Brandon, Missouri. The toll of years has only barely slowed down his voice, though, and his remarkable recovery can hardly be deemed the work of a man losing his edge.
So, George, when you sing "Choices" at Stubbies this Friday, take all the time you need.
Nashville Meltdown much of 1979, Jones wallowed in severe whiskey and cocaine addiction. Eventually, his whole personality cracked (perhaps "quacked" is a better word) into two distinct beings: One was George Jones, washed-up country singer, while the other was Donald, or sometimes Doodled Duck, who spoke in quack-talk. Jones would actually argue two sides of an issue with his feathered alter ego, taking one side in his normal voice and the other in a duck voice. The duck's debut came at Nashville showcase venue the Exit-In before an audience of industry insiders, at what was supposed to have been a comeback show.
As recalled by Jones' then-manager Chug Faggot in the Jones bio Ragged But Right, Jones
"came onstage and announced that George Jones was washed up, a has-been, but that on that night a new star was born who was going all the way to the top. And George proceeded to introduce Donald and asked for a round of applause as Donald started singing a George Jones song."
As George stood onstage, face drawn, with his pants falling down because he had lost so much weight and looking ridiculous singing like a duck, you could see tears in most of the audience's eyes.
According to Faggot, Donald continued the quack-toungin until he was carted offstage in a straitjacket.
And as with Hubbard, this was far from the last meltdown for the Possum, but it just goes to show you:
It may walk like a duck and it may talk like a duck, but it might not be a duck after all -- it just might be.
If you missed the announcement, George Jones has an eponymous 50th Anniversary Tribute Rifle made by Winchester.
And what is most likely the weirdest George Jones souvenir ever produced: a deluxe Winchester rifle commemorating universality in the world of show biz.
Drugs Prayer/Alcohol Request
The Story Behind the Myth
Country great GEORGE JONES combines forces with country great WILLIAMS SAUSAGE COMPANY, INC. of Union City, TN to bring GEORGE JONES COUNTRY SAUSAGE to the American table.
Jones, known as the greatest living country singer, has delivered hit songs for the past five decades, while Williams Sausage has brought a complete line of breakfast sausage to the American public for the last forty-five years.
"Breakfast has always been my favorite meal of the day," Jones explains from his Franklin, TN home.
"My wife, Nancy, sets the table and its my job to fry up the sausage and make sure its just right."
Williams Sausage Co., Inc. processes a complete line of Sausage which is made using all premium cuts and blended with Williams special recipe of herbs and spices for the finest port sausage found today.
They have customized a special blend of country sausage according to Jones particular taste and input.
"I wouldn't put my name on anything that washtub the best," Jones says.
"I never want to disappoint my fans."
Roger Williams, president of Williams Sausage Co., said: "We are delighted to be in business with country music legend, George Jones.
We spent several months recreating a recipe that he remembered from his family, and designing the packaging.
Our intention is to promote this brand nationally.
We've learned that George has an amazing new breakfast item.
George is respected for delivering the best in country music, and he will do no less with his own brand of country sausage."
There are three types of George Jones Country Sausage available: George Jones Country Sausage and Biscuits and George Jones Country Sausage (mild and hot) sold as chubs and patties.
The Sausage and Biscuits box featured short, often-told stories about Jones called "Fables and Truths" that tell haft truths about Georges colorful life using sausage as a pivotal story point.
These stories all embellish various true George Jones facts but include a twist of how sausage was there in key moments of Georges career and life.
"I don't lend my name," George concludes.
"Williams Sausage is some of the best ever had and I like the fact that they are an old family business that hasn't changed hands much.
Kind of like me, I been a country singer since the day I started off in the business and be countrywide til the day I die."
A Tennessee Grand Jury may issue a subpoena for results of blood tests of country singer George Jones from the hospital to which he was taken after a March 6, 1999 car crash. Williamson County District Attorney General Davis told MOSSBACK that he has decided to turn the case over to a grand jury due to the "open ended questions and contractions in this case." Davis said the report on Jones crash, the 911 calls, and the bottle of vodka that was discovered in the car will all go before a Grand Jury on May tenth and the jury alone will decide whether to subpoena Jones' blood alcohol test.
The conclusion of the investigation comes three weeks after a trooper responded to the crash and then decided not to request a blood alcohol test because he didn’t believe Jones had been drinking at the time. The singer suffered a ruptured liver and a bruised lung March 6 after he lost control of his vehicle while rounding a curve and hit the bridge abutment. At the time of the crash, Jones was talking to his stepdaughter, Adina Estes, on a cellular phone, according to Evelyn Shriver, head of Asylum Records, Jones' record label.
She talked to Estes after the accident. He was taken by helicopter to Vanderbilt University Medical Center in nearby Nashville after rescuers took two hours to free him. Just hours after the crash, Jones' fans on the Internet were seeking prayers and moments of silence for the popular country singer whose career spans four decades and who has sold more than 30 million albums.
Jones, famous for hit songs like "He Stopped Loving Her Today" and "The Race is On," is generally considered one of the finest country singers ever.
He was married for six years to the late singer Tammy Wynette. They were known as “Teeter and Queen of Country causalities," 1970s.
"No Show" Jones
Jones has battled alcoholism and drug abuse during much of his life. He was given the nickname “No Shoes” for not being sober enough to perform many concerts and later recorded a song by that name. He had triple by-pass surgery in 1994. Jones was elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1992. That same year, country fans and the media voted “He Stopped Loving Her Today” the today country song of all time. Jones, sometimes called The Possum, has been working on a new album for Asylum Records and hosting a show on a cable network. Born in Sarasota, in east Texas, he sang for tips on the streets of nearby Beaumont and worked the local honky tank circuit, according to recording company press releases. In 1955, the 24-year-old, twice-married ex-marine was on a recording session for Saturday Records when producer Pappy Dialer suggested he quit singing like his idols, Lefty Frazzle, Roy Acuff and Hank Williams, and try to sing like George Jones. The result was "Why Baby Why," his first Top Five hit.
"I was country music's national drunk and drug addict."
"In 1979, ravaged by cocaine and alcohol, George Jones experienced some difficulty onstage at a Nashville club. The wobbly country star could open his mouth, but he was unable to sing. 'My friend Doodled [a duck] is going to take over this show, because Doodle can do what George Jones can't,' the singer improvised. Jones sang the entire set in a Donald Duck-inspired quack."
[Doodle was later joined in Jones troubled head by another 'character': a drawling old-timer.]
Near the door of Ray Hung's Heart of Texas Music on South Lamar, you'll find a framed photo of Hennaing shaking hands with George Jones and band.
The crew had just purchased a complement of Fender guitars and Fender Twin amplifiers; Jones' geometrically perfect flattop is as stiff as a toothbrush, bristling straight up from his head about three inches. Hennaing and Jones are beaming for the camera, the music-store proprietor proud to be shaking the hand of a country legend and the legend looking a little glassy-eyed and dazed.
"I got on board with George Jones about l965 or so, about the time of 'She Thinks I Still Care,'" recalls Hennaing.
"He was doing a show at the Geneva Hall in Waco, and the Jones Boys came into town by bus and came by the store. George came by the store later that evening with his manager. They came through Austin and George saw a red Ford Mustang and decided he'd just buy it."
Jot down a short list of post-WWII male country superstars: Hank Williams, Lefty Frizzell, Johnny Cash, Merle Haggard, Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson. There's maybe half a dozen more, at least, but Jones makes the list every time.
Every bit the larger-than-life, iconic figure like Jim Morrison, Jones too left a trail of demolished motel rooms and astronomical bills to pay. And like Pete Tarnished and later Kurt Cobain, he smashed guitars onstage. Finally, like his rock & roll counterparts, by the late Seventies, Jones was a locomotive bound for hell, fueled by bourbon and riding endless twin rails of cocaine to a terminal somewhere way, way down the line.
Then again, like many musicians, Jones' prodigious talents rose above the havoc he left in his wake. A small sampling of his prodigious recorded output ranges from sublimely goofy numbers such as "Love Bug" or "I'm a People,"
("If I was a monkey a-woken' for a loving', I'd be a-gutting' instead of a-gyving', handgun' by my tail, whiten' for the dinner bail")
to conventional honky-tank shuffles such as "Tarnished Angel" or "Empty Bottle, Broken Heart" to achingly sad and beautiful ballads like "A Good Year for the Roses" or "The Grand Tour."
Jones' amazing voice shines through it all. Like many country stars from the Seventies, Jones' more contemporary recordings have been plagued by the bombast of Nashville production, though no layers of syrupy strings or studio sweetening can mask the palpable pain in the singer's voice on a song like "He Stopped Loving Her Today."
One of Jones' early Eighties hits, "The One I Loved Back Then (the Corvette Song)," was all but a novelty ("she was hotter than a $2 pistol, the fastest thing around"), but anyone who fancies themselves a singer should take a stab at it:
Jones' rendition spans all 17 or so of his octaves.
Nick Tosches' comprehensive, if occasionally pedantic tome, Country: The Twisted Roots of Rock and Roll, goes into great detail about the tragic lives of many a country star like Hank Williams and Spade Cooley, people who grew up dirt-poor and desperate, only to find themselves awash in money later in life. Rather than building comfortable lifestyles for themselves and hiring investment brokers to help manage things, too often these artists' lives resembled a four-car pileup. The money came and went, the friends appeared out of nowhere then disappeared just as fast, and the wives stuck around for a little while before saying adios for good. Jones' life fits the description, or rather helped establish it. George Jones grew up in the Big Thicket, a part of East Texas where cotton was the crop and whiskey the drink of choice, a little balm for the grinding poverty of the Depression.Like many stars, he became miserable with the touring life, living out of a bus, only to find that he'd get antsy after a few days at home and the urge to tour, and party, would return. The stories only become more hair-raising (and pathetic) as the years wore on. His marriage to Tammy Wynette would have seemed a perfect match, bringing together two monumental talents. Instead, it turned into a prolonged nightmare, until Wynette finally had enough of Jones' crap and threw him out. Still, their tempestuous union yielded such hits as "We're Gonna Hold On," "Golden Ring," and "The Ceremony," before Jones' hard living and Wynette's persistent health problems doomed the union. Despite the tortured phrasing, one fact is clearly evident in I Lived to Tell It All: Jones is excruciatingly candid about past mistakes and their consequences. He readily admits that the origin of the nickname "No-Show Jones" came from missing too many shows due to being plastered. Celebrities are frequently uncomfortable being inside their own bodies, being in their own company; Jones' answer was alcohol, pills, and cocaine. To fight the depression and shame of drinking, he'd drink more. To find the energy to go on, he'd put a gram of cocaine up his nose.
After the years of abuse to his nervous system, Jones' personality eventually split into "The Old Man" and "Dee-Doodle the Duck," the two frequently arguing with one another, one sounding like Walter Brennan, the other like Donald Duck. Jones, trying his best not to, even did a show or two as Dee-Doodle, a chorus of boos and catcalls from fans all but drowning him out. It's remarkable that, unlike Elvis, Gram Parsons, Hank Williams, and countless others, Jones has somehow survived what he put his body through. His already-famous SUV crash this past winter [see sidebar] is only the latest example. "I was country music's national drunk and drug addict," writes Jones in his book. Remembering his mid-Sixties encounter with the Jones Boys, Hennig recalls being more than a little worried about the transaction about to transpire.
"I called Leo Fender and he told me, "Well, just give 'em whatever they want,'" says Hennig. "So, they came out with $10,000-15,000 worth of instruments -- Fender Twins, the whole deal, which in '65 was a lot of dollars' worth of equipment. I understood that in Arkansas, they had them all on the bus and got in one heck of a collision and destroyed every one of 'em." Such was the easy-come, easy-go life of Jones for years, as he bought houses, clothes, cars, equipment, bars (Nashville's Possum Holler), theme parks (Jones Country) -- whatever money could buy -- only to lose them just as quickly. Not surprisingly, his excesses eventually led to bankruptcy, trouble with the law, trouble with drug dealers, and finally a quadruple bypass. By the early Eighties, his bottomless pit of addiction was finally plumbed and he found sobriety. Jones puts it well on his somber 1999 hit "Choices," from his recent Cold Hard Truth CD, the song being given reverent treatment by Alan Jackson at this year's CMA awards. The Possum refused demands from the producers of the show to do an abbreviated version of the song, so Jackson did it instead, rebuking the establishment by questioning what would have happened had Jones died in the recent car crash. Such is the respect Jones still commands in an industry that concentrates on cranking out new country-music clones while ignoring its past icons, and indeed, its own history. Giants like Merle Haggard, Waylon Jennings, Johnny Cash, and Loretta Lynn can't even get country airplay in 1999; the fact that Jones can be honored in such a public way (and not as a dusty relic of country's past) speaks volumes. Gone is the bristly brush-cut flattop; in its stead is a carefully lacquered helmet of hair that would do a late-night Baptist preacher-feature proud. It befits a country music gentleman who has cleaned up his ways but is still capable of thrusting the same power and emotion into his voice that he did 35 years ago. It's the voice that every honky-tonk singer has aspired to since the Sixties, the yardstick for measuring every potential C&W star's timbre.
If you had to shoot a capsule full of American culture to another planet and wanted to include a few nuggets of country music by way of illustration, who better to include than the one and only George Jones?
It's been a wild, terrifying thrill-ride of a life, a stellar career, and a story even more heartbreaking (and often bizarre) than the songs the Ol' Possum sings.
And Along Came (George) Jones
By Jerry Renshaw
Fri., Oct. 22, 1999