Country Throwback: George Jones and Tammy Wynette Sing Together for First Time After Divorce

by Jon D. B.

The emotional, tear-filled George Jones & Tammy Wynette performance of “Golden Ring” took place live and on stage for “Pop Goes The Country.”

For country icons George Jones & Tammy Wynette, marriage was never an easy affair (no pun intended). Although both were wildly successful as solo and duo artists, this never would translate into marital bliss. As fans of The Possum well know, Jones own excessive substance abuse problems would complicate all his relationships.

This was especially true of his marriage to country icon Tammy Wynette. Those close to the pair often spoke of vicious yelling matches. Wynette herself recounted in her autobiography that Jones “chased her through their home with a loaded rifle,” notes. Although disputed by Jones in his own 1996 memoir, the alleged incident would’ve been far fresher on Wynette’s mind, as her 1979 autobiography was written just four years after the couple’s legal split.

Though they divorced in 1975, Wynette’s first filing came two years earlier in 1973. The couple would reconcile, however, with Wynette citing her initial filing as an attempt to break George Jones of his drinking habits. The resulting turbulence resulted in another successful country duet, “We’re Gonna Hold On.”

Despite pulling art from tragedy, the two would continue to struggle. Jones’ infamous “no-show” habit had him miss a recording session with his wife. The resulting fight would see Jones purchase a Cadillac and drive it all the way down to Florida. For Wynette, this was the final straw. She filed again for divorce.

Wynette’s Second Divorce Filing Would Stick

This time, however, there would be no reconciliation.

“George is one of those people who can’t tolerate happiness,” biography quotes of the icon from Tennessean archives. “If everything is right, there is something in him that makes him destroy it, and destroy me with it.”

In 1975, Tennessee courts granted the divorce. Of it, George Jones would later state that he “let Tammy have everything – didn’t fight it.”

As a result, Wynette wound up with the couple’s tour bus, their house in Nashville, rights to their band, and custody of their daughter.

After the separation, Jones would tell People he “ached about our divorce.” Within the same archived interview, Jones details that he would sometimes drive from Alabama back up to Nashville “just to spin through the driveway” at his former home (then Wynette’s).

The following year, George Jones would attempt to make up for all his wrong-doings towards Tammy. For Mother’s Day, he would present Wynette with a brand new Thunderbird. The gesture worked, as the two would continue to exchange gifts throughout the year and into Christmas. Their renewed relationship – outside of marriage – was a fruitful one, too. They duo never stopped sharing a label or management team, nor writing together.

That same year would see their crafting of two No. 1 duets: “Near You,” and the focus of today’s George Jones Country Throwback: “Golden Ring.”

‘Golden Ring’ Helps Pull George Jones out of Despair

Despite sharing their management, label, and recordings, the duo still managed very few public appearances together during the throws of their separation and reconciliation. Jones’s own drinking, and the onset of a cocaine addiction, officially earned him a new nickname alongside “Possum: “No Show.”

George Jones would miss many concerts during this time, including those scheduled with Wynette.

That changed, however, with a 1977 episode of Nashville country variety television show, Pop Goes The Country. In a remarkable and special arrangement, the show’s producers and cast managed to get both George Jones and Tammy Wynette to sing together live on the show for their audience. Not only did they manage to get these two to agree after the past years’ roller coaster of emotions – but they got George Jones to show up sober, too.

And show up he did. The resulting performance is incredible to witness for Jones & Wynette fans. Together, the couple slowly work back into their rhythm after years of hard times. Once they hit their stride, however, it’s like nothing ever happened. Their voices melt together perfectly as their body language completely changes. By the end of the song, Tammy has to wipe tears from her face as her voice begins trembling under the emotional words of their powerful country duet: “Golden Ring.”

“Tammy and I are getting along better than we ever did when we were married,” Jones told People the year of this recording. “I think we still love each other. I know I love her.”

And the rest, as we often say here at Outsider, is history.

For all the best Country Throwbacks to those bygone days, stick with your fellow fans at Up next: