Saturday, April 26, 2014

Who's gonna fill George's shoes?

“If we could all sing like we wanted to, 
we’d all sing like George Jones.” 
–Waylon Jennings

I'm not a fan of country music, especially the current manufactured sounding songs and artists that are popular (and that goes for any genre). I have a soft spot for the old country music, thanks in part to my awesome grandparents, with whom I've listened to George Jones and the likes all my life. On April 26, 2013, however, my love for George grew into something special. It was the day he passed away, and a radio station was playing nothing but George. I wondered why I had been missing out on listening to George all my adult life, on my own, not at my grandparents' house! He sang with heart. His love songs with Tammy tugged at the heart strings. It wasn't until I read up on George that I learned of his hard and troubled life, and, of course, that only made me love him more.

George Glenn Jones was born September 12, 1931 in a small Texas town. When George was seven, he heard country music for the first time when his parents bought a radio, and he was given a guitar when he was nine. He would stay awake late on Saturday nights just to hear Bill Monroe and Roy Acuff on the Grand Ole Opry. His father was a terrible alcoholic, and when he drank, he was physically and emotionally abusive to his wife and children. George said, "We were our daddy's loved ones when he was sober, his prisoners when he was drunk." George's father would come home late at night, drunk, and wake up the entire family and make young George sing for them. George left home at 16 to work for a radio station in another Texas town, and in 1950, he married his first wife, Dorothy, though they divorced a year later. Around this time, he enlisted in the US Marine Corps, and was stationed in San Jose, California until his discharge in 1953. 

Twelve year old George on the streets of Beaumont, Texas

The Possum in the Marines

In 1954, George married Shirley Ann Corley after only 2 weeks of dating and together they had 2 sons, Jeffrey and Brian. When it came down to it, neither one knew what they were getting into with the other. George had his heart set on becoming a country star, and Shirley was set against it. George cut his first record, No Money In This Deal for Starday Records also in '54. George was also working at another radio station in Beaumont, Texas at this time, where he acquired the nickname The Possum, simply because of his looks, his long turned up nose and his small eyes. He was affectionately called Possum all his life. George's first hit came in 1955, Why Baby Why, and he began performing on the Louisiana Hayride with the likes of Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash. When Elvis became popular with his rockabilly sound, George was pressured into taking on the style as well. Rockabilly wasn't George's style, though. He recorded a couple of rockabilly songs under the assumed name Thumper Jones, because he didn't want his real name on anything that wasn't good. 

George, left, with James O'Gwynne in 1956 
on the Louisiana Hayride

George, right, with friend Johnny Paycheck on stage

His first Billboard number one came in 1959, White Lightnin', which George admitted in his autobiography he recorded drunk, taking 80 takes to do. In the 1960s, he recorded hits like She Thinks I Still Care and a duet with Melba Montgomery, We Must Have Been Out Of Our Minds. During this period, he was already becoming well known for either not showing up to his scheduled concerts or showing up under the influence of a great deal of alcohol. This alcoholic behavior would continue throughout the 1970s and gain him another nickname, No Show Jones. After 13 rocky years of marriage, and after George was coming unglued, he and Shirley divorced in 1968.

George married his third wife, fellow country singer Tammy Wynette, in 1969. They recorded an abundance of songs together, and although George was more sober at times than in previous years, he still was an alcoholic. It eventually led to the demise of his marriage to Tammy in 1976. 

George with wife and duet partner, Tammy Wynette

Tammy and George chat with Merle Haggard and wife Bonnie Owens

Audrey Winters, Little Richard, Tammy and George

George and Tammy with their daughter, Tamala Georgette.
Georgette was born in 1970.

George and Georgette in the 1980s

After the divorce, George ran rampant. To add to his constant drinking, a manager introduced him to cocaine. George, broke and homeless, filed for bankruptcy in 1978. A year later, he entered a psychiatric hospital. Although he was still drinking upon his release, he managed a comeback in 1980. The song He Stopped Loving Her Today came out in April and shocked the world with its huge success. Soon after, he met and married Nancy Sepulvado who he credits with turning his life around for good. She took care of his financial situation, she kept him away from anyone providing him with drugs, and she helped him stop drinking for the most part. They had a love that lasted the rest of his life.

"It wasn't love at first sight or anything like that. But I saw what a good person he was,
 deep down, and I couldn't help caring about him."

The beautiful Nancy at George's memorial/gravesite
in Nashville.

George has been hailed as one of, if not THE greatest country singer who ever lived, by Garth Brooks, Waylon Jennings, and Merle Haggard, just to name a few. There will never be another one like him. 

"He stopped loving her today
They placed a wreath upon his door
And soon they'll carry him away
He stopped loving her today."

Rest easy, Possum.

We still love Lucy!

25 years ago today, we lost the greatest comedienne who has ever lived. We miss you, Lucy.

"One of the worst things the studio people did was shave off
my eyebrows. We were all trying to look like Jean Harlow."

Lucille spent two years re-learning how to walk after
being stricken with rheumatoid arthritis at 19.

Using the name "Diane Belmont," Lucille started work as
a chorus girl on Broadway in 1932.

She was known as Queen of the B movies

She was friends with some of Hollywood's biggest actresses,
including Ginger Rogers and Carole Lombard.

When Lucille was a teenager, her mother sent her to drama school 
in New York City, where she was in classes with Bette Davis.
Lucille said, "All I learned in drama school was how to be frightened."

Desi and Lucille met in 1940 and married soon after. 
They had a rocky relationship, though they were deeply in love.

Technicolor Tessie of the 1940s

The studio dyed her hair her trademark red for the film
DuBarry Was A Lady in 1943.

MGM publicity shot

 Lucille started on the CBS radio show My Favorite Husband
 in 1948.

Her favorite movie she appeared in was The Big Street in 1942 
with Henry Fonda.

Lucille had the longest association with Max Factor
out of anyone in Hollywood.

"One of the things I learned the hard way was that it doesn't pay to get discouraged.
Keeping busy and making optimism a way of life can restore your
faith in yourself."

She has two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
One for motion pictures, and one for television.

Lucille suffered three miscarriages before having her two
children, Lucie and Desi Jr. She was 39 & 41, respectively, when 
she gave birth to her children.

Lucy claimed that her friend, Carole Lombard, who had passed away
in a plane accident in 1942, came to her in a dream and told her to
"give it a whirl!" in regards to I Love Lucy.

Lucille and Desi performed a Vaudeville act in the early 1950s.
Some of their acts were performed in I Love Lucy episodes.

I Love Lucy began its 6 season run in 1951.

After I Love Lucy, the Ricardos and Mertzes continued their
hijinx on The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour until 1960.

In 1953, Lucille went on trial and was accused of being a Communist.
She was later acquitted after disproving the claims.

When Desi and Lucille created DesiLu,
she became the first female to head a production company.

Lucille and Desi divorced in 1960, shortly after The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour

In 1960, Lucille appeared on Broadway once again, 
this time in Wildcat.

Lucille also starred in two other sitcoms, The Lucy Show and later Life With Lucy.
She also made a few films in the 1960s.

Lucille attempted a comeback in the 1980s, hosting a retrospect of Three's Company.
She also made Stone Pillow, a movie which was not widely accepted.

Lucille passed away after complications from surgery on April 26, 1989.

I love you, Lucy!! 

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