Country music singer George Jones died in Nashville, Tenn., Friday at age 81. Jones is credited as a major influence on the genre and his death was mourned by many prominent country musicians.
A statement circulated by Webster & Associates, Jones's publicist, said that the singer was hospitalized April 18 with irregular blood pressure and a fever. "He has been on oxygen for a long while now and his lungs finally just couldn't do it anymore," a family member told TMZ.
Jones was eulogized by the Wall Street Journal as a "honky tonk" singer who "personified glitzy country stardom," but whose marriage to fellow country singer Tammy Wynette in the 1970s was "marked by alcohol abuse and gunplay."
Jones' emotive baritone lent itself to many a country tune of heartbreak, captured in the classic "He Stopped Loving Her Today."
After his divorce from Wynette, Jones married Nancy Ford Sepulvado in 1983. "The union, he repeatedly said, began his rehabilitation from drugs and alcohol and prolonged his life," according to the statement from his publicist.
In 1999 Jones nearly died in a car crash, but he recovered and performed almost until his death. In 2008 he received the Kennedy Center's prestigious lifetime achievement.
Dolly Parton said in a statement reacting to Jones's' death: "My heart is absolutely broken. George Jones was my all-time favorite singer and one of my favorite people in the world. My heart goes out to Nancy and all his family and friends."
"We lost one of the best voices God created this morning," Faith Hill wrote on Twitter. "Our hearts are saddened to hear that George Jones has passed away."
Keith Urban tweeted: "If I'm blessed enough to make it there, I look forward to you giving me the grand tour. Rest in peace George Jones!"
"Today is a sad day in Country music," said Hank Williams Jr. in a statement. "We have lost another piece of history. George Jones was not only a good singer, but was a good friend. He will be missed by many."
Brad Paisley described Jones as "the greatest singer of all time" in a tweeted message to fans. "To those who knew him, our lives were full," wrote Paisley. "To those of you who don't: discover him now."
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