When it comes to singers, you don’t get much better than George Jones. If you needed any proof of that, just about every country music legend looked up to him. Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, Alan Jackson, and countless other stars have all heaped praises upon ol’ Possum. There’s no denying that he was one of the best singers to ever step behind a microphone. In fact, before he passed away, many called him the greatest living country singer. Many others would say that only part of that has changed since his passing.
George Jones wasn’t just a great country singer. He was a tireless defender of traditional country music. You can pick up any one of Possum’s records, drop the needle whenever you want, and it’ll be pure country gold. From his first hits in the fifties until his final release in the mid-2000s, he was the essence of country music made flesh. The truth is Possum could have sung any genre and made hits. However, his love for country was so strong that he stuck with it for six decades.
These reasons and many more are why the Academy of Country Music honored George Jones with the Pioneer Award in 1993.
George Jones – The Pioneer
Watch the video of George Jones accepting the award above and take note of all the stars who heap praises upon him. In 1993, you couldn’t find a group with more country music clout if you tried. Firstly, Garth Brooks presented the award. Then, he tossed it to the giant video screen where some of the biggest stars in the genre spoke about Jones, his music, and his influence.
Tammy Wynette, George Jones’ ex-wife said, “He’s inspired so many of the new country artists.”
Then, Vince Gill, a legend in his own right, said that Jones’ “Whole thing,” was what he perceived as country music in its purest form.
Mark Miller of Sawyer Brown fame and Travis Tritt also had some praise for Possum. Miller said that if you looked up country singer in the dictionary, you’d find a photo of George Jones. Tritt noted that Jones aged like wine. He got better as he aged.
Later in the presentation, both Alan Jackson and Randy Travis chimed in to say how much Jones deserved the award. In short, just about everybody who had a hit in the early nineties looked up to George Jones. He was and still is, impactful and influential.
George Jones accepted the award and gave a short speech he started by addressing his fans and fellow artists, saying that he loved them all from the bottom of his heart. Then, he added, “I love country music from the very very bottom of my heart. That’s the reason I’ve stayed with it and I’ll always stay with it as long as I live.”
And he did just that.