On This Day: George Jones Records ‘He Stopped Loving Her Today’ in 1980

by Emily Morgan

As country music fans, we all have different favorite songs. However, there is one thing we can all agree on: George Jones’ “He Stopped Loving Her Today” is one of country music’s biggest hits. 

On this day in 1980, he released the mournful ballad to the world. Soon it would become the standard many other country artists would try to emulate. However, its magic lies far beyond its lyrics and notes. Instead, it’s in Jones’ vulnerability that derived from his past relationships. 

Bobby Braddock and Curly Putnam wrote the tune. Coincidentally, the pair also helped pen Possum’s former love, Tammy Wynette’s hit song “D-I-V-O-R-C-E.” 

George Jones’ Feelings About The Hit Song

Although Jones’ producer Billy Sherrill wanted to put the melancholy track on Jones’ upcoming record, there was a major hiccup: Jones hated the song. 

By 1980, Jones underwent significant turmoil in his personal and professional life due to his substance abuse. His contempt for the song could be because it reminded him that he was the literal depiction of a sad country song. 

However, by that time, his singles were falling short of his previous hits, and Sherrill was determined to get Jones back on the country charts and knew that the song would get him there. 

According to Bob Allen’s biography George Jones: The Life and Times of a Honky Tonk Legend, Jones “thought it was too long, too sad, too depressing and that nobody would ever play it … He hated the melody and wouldn’t learn it.”

Jones had a point. The song tells a painfully depressing story about a man who commits to never stop loving his ex up until the day he dies. 

Finally, Jones agreed to record the track. He was still recovering from mistakes he made in his life, and found the song difficult to perform.

Despite his early apprehension, “He Stopped Loving Her Today” presented Jones with a much-needed rebirth in country music. It earned him a Grammy Award in 1980 for “Best Male Country Vocal Performance.” It also won CMA “Song of the Year” for two consecutive years. 

As Jones poetically puts it, “a four-decade career had been salvaged by a three-minute song.”