Country Throwback: George Jones Performs Raucous Version of ‘No Show Jones’ at Farm-Aid 1985

by Emily Morgan

For years, country music artists have utilized blue-collar, middle-American themes through their songwriting. While the lyrics may be gritty and raw, country music’s value often comes from the songwriter’s ability to capture authenticity. George Jones is a perfect example of this.

His fans knew him as “the possum” or “no-show jones,” which he took in stride despite the somewhat negative connotation.

Amid his comeback era, Jones exemplified bravery and relatability when he performed his track, “No Show Jones,” at the 1985 Farm Aid concert in Champaign, Illinois.

Willie Nelson, Neil Young, and John Mellencamp conceptualized the idea for the concert. They wanted to make sure family farmers could keep working so that people could reap its benefits.

George Jones Delivered a Comeback He Owed to His Fans

Raised in Colmesneil, Texas, George Jones knew a thing to two about the value of the tireless yet necessary work that comes with farming. His father, George Washington Jones, worked in a shipyard— a job that requires a diligent nitty-gritty attitude. His mother, Clara, selflessly found herself in front of the piano every Sunday at the local Pentecostal church.

After the unfortunate death of his younger sister, Ethel, Jones’ father turned to the bottle as a means to cope. As an abusive alcoholic, George Washington Jones would often take out his anger about his daughter’s death on young Jones. Despite growing up rough, Jones turned to music to cope with his somewhat unsavory childhood. At nine-years-old, Jones began playing guitar and learned to play his first songs at church.

45 years later, after overcoming a long history with drugs and alcohol, a sober Jones stepped foot on the Farm Bureau stage. As he began singing, you could see the joy on his face shine through and into the hearts of his onlooking fans. They may have had reasons to abandon “The Possum,” but their loyalty remained.

After being introduced by Willie Nelson, Jones performed as if he never left the country music scene. As he sings “No Show Jones,” it had an ironic tone. He earned the nickname for being absent for other shows in the past, but this was one performance he wasn’t going to miss.

Despite a history spattered with divorce, drugs, and abuse, Jones is determined to be a better person for his fans; many of whom know what it means to struggle. Even though Jones is no longer with us, the spirit of his worthwhile yet straightforward lyricism remains.