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Country singer and songwriter George Jones was born into poverty, but became a successful musician later in life. His first hit was the 1955 song "Why Baby Why."
George Jones talks about his fight against addiction.
Waylon Jennings fights the Nashville establishment.
Merle Haggard tells the public about his criminal past on Johnny Cash's TV show.
On February 11, 1968 Johnny Cash recorded a live show at Folsom Prison in California offering the inmates the concert of a lifetime.
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In 1999, Jones broke into the country album chart's Top 10 list with The Cold Hard Truth. That same year, it appeared that he had relapsed after getting into a serious car accident while intoxicated. He later claimed that the incident straightened him out for good.
More recently, Jones reunited with Merle Haggard for 2006's Kickin' Out the Footlights...Again. He became the subject of a tribute album,
God's Country: George Jones and Friends, that same year. Vince Gill, Tanya Tucker and Pam Tillis were among the artists covering some of Jones's biggest hits, and Jones himself contributed a track to the recording. In 2008, he put out Burn Your Playhouse Down, a collection of previously unreleased duets with Dolly Parton, Keith Richards and Marty Stuart, among others.
In his later years, Jones continued to maintain a rigorous tour schedule, playing numerous dates across the country. After winning induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1992, he received the National Medal of the Arts in 2002. A decade later, in 2012, he garnered one of the greatest honors of his career: a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.
George Jones died on April 26, 2013, at the age of 81, at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee, after reportedly being hospitalized with irregular blood pressure and a fever.
With a career spanning more than 50 years, Jones is regarded as a country music icon, one of the genre's all-time greatest stars. His clear, strong voice and his ability to convey so many emotions won over thousands of fans, as well as the envy of his peers. As fellow country star Waylon Jennings once said, "If we could sound the way we wanted, we'd all sound like George Jones."
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A uniquely American genre, country music got its start in the South in the early 19th century, when immigrants blended their Old World sounds with African-American musical styles. But it was the lives of the musicians, as told in their songs, that turned country into one of the best-loved musical styles in the United States. Listeners could relate to Jimmie Rodgers' stories of the railroad in "The Brakeman's Blues"; Hank Williams' struggle with depression in tunes such as "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry"; and the promise of finding someone to rely on in George Jones' "Walk Through This World With Me." And its the universal struggles of love, loss, joy and longing found in each country song that keeps this music—and its performers—relevant throughout time.
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When it comes to singing about struggle and emotion, there are few genres that match the intensity of country music. Country music was born from musicians that were brave enough to wear their hearts on their sleeves from happiness to heartache. Because of country icons like Johnny Cash, Dolly Parton and Jimmie Rodgers, this southern, soulful genre has grown to become loved by many. Browse through the legends that established country music as the popular genre that it is today.
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