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Country music starspay homage to George Jones — UPDATED

Published April 26, 2013 12:35 pm

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Today, upon learning of the passing of George Jones, the following country music stars released statements expressing their love and adoration for the "Possum":

"He had a voice that was the truth, raw and unfiltered. You cant get any realer, any more tortured or any more alive. No one can do what George Jones does, and that's why 50 years later, he still stands out as one of the greatest singers in any genre of all time. We were great friends, but it was really more like a father/son relationship. He even showed up in Lexington, Kentucky two years ago to surprise me onstage for my birthday... all the way from Nashville, to surprise me and sing 'He Stopped Loving Her Today' with me, which will be one of the greatest memories of my life. When I was just staring out, and I was picked to open the George Jones/Tammy Wynette Reunion Tour, I thought I'd made it... Then one night, George asked me if I was heading home because he and Nancy had a plane, and they'd take me. I remember sitting there on that jet, thinking, 'This can't be happening...' because he was George Jones, and I was some kid from nowhere...' I'm sure he knew, but he was generous to kids chasing the dream, and I never forgot it." — Kenny Chesney Ricky Skaggs"THE Country Music singer of all time. The words 'Who's Gonna Fill Their Shoes' has never been more true than today." Larry Gatlin"Years ago someone asked Coach Bum Phillips if Earl Campbell was in a class by himself. Bum replied, 'Well if he ain't, it sure don't take long to check roll.' I say the same of the late great George Jones. Rest in peace POSSUM. You were always kind to me… THANKS." Sammy Kershaw"George Jones has been a major part of my personal and professional life for a long time. I have been inspired by his music for the last 50 years and for 42 of those, I had the pleasure of knowing him personally and professionally. He was IT to me. George was and will always be my guy. I am luckier than a lot of people on this Earth because God let me be a part of George's life and him a part of mine. And on this day, his song couldn't be more true: 'He Stopped Loving Her Today.'" Mel Tillis"I met George when he came to Nashville and we became good friends. I'm really going to miss him. The world has lost the greatest singer to have ever lived." Ray Stevens"George Jones may be gone but his music will live on forever. What a great voice and a great friend." Pam Tillis"Country music as we know it would be vastly different if it weren't for George Jones. He's in our musical DNA. All country artists will have to figure out how to even begin to live up to his kind of legacy. 'Honky Tonk Heaven,' here he comes… though we're not ready to let go." Restless Heart"The greatest most soulful voice in history is gone. RIP George Jones… the guys of Restless Heart will miss you greatly." The Marshall Tucker Band"We met George many times over the past 50 years. This is a terrible loss for his family, friends, the country music industry and the world. He's the most identifiable and inspirational country artist that has ever lived.-Doug Gray Billy Dean"George Jones was a mentor and a giant to my generation of country singers. He was there for my first Ralph Emery Show appearance. Backstage I was so nervous and expressed concern to George that if Ralph Emery didn't like me, my career may never get off the ground. The first thing George said to Ralph when they went on air was how nice of guy he thought I was. George Jones was our country music soul singer, no doubt. Who's gonna fill those shoes?" The Bellamy Brothers"We've lost one of the greatest voices in history. Prayers and condolences to his family." Sweethearts of the Rodeo"Sharing the same vocal booth with George Jones on 'Traveller's Prayer' was without a doubt THE highlight of our career. He was a true legend, generous and supportive and he will live on and on in our hearts."

"I have no words to express my admiration and love for George Jones. To say he was my 'hero' does not do justice to the lifetime impression he made on me, both personally and professionally. George Jones is the foundation of country music and he's the reason I wanted to perform. He's the reason I'm still here in this business... out there on the road. He was my mentor and my teacher; George was my friend. He paved the way for so many and I was one of the lucky ones to have enjoyed the opportunity to not only sing beside him, but just 'sit and visit' with him. When I was just starting out, we toured together; he was the headliner. After a few shows, he told me that I was going to close the shows (because he wanted to watch "Andy Griffith"). For a newcomer, it was intimidating to open for him; there was even more pressure to close for him. George gave me strength and encouragement; he kept telling me 'you can do it, son.' George Jones is the Father of Country. We will all miss his voice, and I will miss his voice to call me 'son.'" — Mark Chesnutt "Country music lost an icon today and I have lost a dear and beloved friend. With tear-filled eyes, I'm reminiscing this morning about all that I learned from and loved about George Jones. He was part of my 'country music education;' he made country music history and, in my opinion, George Jones is a song's best friend. No one will leave an imprint on my life like George did." — Lorrie Morgan "The first 8-tracks that I owned were recordings by Conway Twitty and George Jones. Long before my career got started, I was at a concert (Travis Tritt's homecoming show) and George Jones performed. I sat there and sang along to every word that George sang. A lady, who sat in front of me, turned around and said, 'do you know George Jones' music?' When my reply was, 'heck yeah,' she introduced herself; it was his wife, Nancy. Nancy brought me backstage that night to introduce me to George. That was three years before I signed my record deal and we've remained friends and stayed in touch since then. Right or wrong, in good times and in bad, people loved George Jones—he made an impression. His music is his legacy and he will not only be remembered as the best country singer this world will ever know, but a great man that we all will truly miss." — Mark Wills

"Two-time GRAMMY Award winner and Recording Academy Lifetime Achievement Award recipient George Jones was a true icon of country music. From honky-tonk tunes to country ballads, he recorded numerous hits over his legendary half-century career, including "White Lightning," "Still Doin' Time" and the enduring classic "He Stopped Loving Her Today," which is considered one of the most revered songs of the genre. The music community has lost a gifted and cherished artist. His legacy will continue to be celebrated for generations to come, and our heartfelt thoughts and condolences go out to his family, his friends and all of his fans who were lifted and inspired by his music." —— Neil Portnow, President/CEO, The Recording Academy