George Jones got one final send-off when two men called him their idol performed his heartbreaking song at his memorial.
In 2013, country music lost an icon like no other. After decades of unprecedented success in country music, George Jones passed away in April of that year. At his heartbreaking memorial, Alan Jackson and George Strait got the honor to pay tribute to the man who paved the road for them.
During the evening, the musicians joined on another for a rendition of Jones’ “He Stopped Loving Her Today”— one of the greatest country songs of all time. The song captured awards such as CMA’s “Song Of The Year” and a Grammy for “Best Male Vocal Performance.”
George Jones released the song in 1980 as the lead single from the album I Am What I Am. Nearly 30 years later, the National Recording Registry at the Library of Congress named it the greatest country song of all time.
Country Icons Show Emotional Side During George Jones’ Memorial
For Jackson and Strait, the moment was undoubtedly emotional. They both attributed Jones with a massive influence on their music and personal lives. The fondness is even evident in his songs. Jackson mentions Jones in his song “Don’t Rock the Jukebox” and Strait mentions him on “Murder on Music Row.”
As for Strait, it was equally emotional to lose an idol and a friend. In an interview with Headline Country in 2013, Strait describes the massive influence that the late legend had on his career.
Strait also reminisced about when he performed with the Possum near his Texas home. He touched on a memory he holds onto dearly in which the two singers, following a live performance, bonded at George Jones’ home and even placed a wager on a football game.
During the memorial, George Strait strummed his guitar alongside Jackson, and they harmonized together on the song. Below, an audience recording captures the emotional, tribute by the two. As he moves through the song, his eyes are often closing as he’s overcome. Right before the final chorus, he stops.
“I know before we leave here tonight that George would like nothin’ better than all these fans here and all the artists here tonight to sing along and help us with the chorus,” Jackson tells the audience. “This is the greatest country song and the greatest country singer that ever was,” he said.
“Let’s sing one in honor of George,” Jackson said, with Jones’ widow, Nancy, under his arm.