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George Jones in the late 1980s.
Country superstar George Jones, known for "He Stopped Loving Her Today" and a long string of other hits, has died.
He was 81.
According to Webster & Associates, the Nashville public relations firm that represented Jones, he died Friday at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. He was hospitalized there on April 18 for treatment of a fever and irregular blood pressure, the p.r. firm adds.
His page on the website of the Country Music Hall of Fame says that, "many attempts have been made to capture in words the immense, singular vocal gifts that have made George Glenn Jones one of the most influential singers in country music history. He is the undisputed successor of earlier primitive geniuses such as Hank Williams and Lefty Frizzell—singers who, in turn, so heavily influenced him in his formative years."
Nashville's WSMV-TV adds that:
"Born September 12, 1931, Jones is regarded among the most important and influential singers in American popular music history. He was the singer of enduring country music hits including 'She Thinks I Still Care,' 'The Grand Tour,' 'Walk Through This World With Me,' 'Tender Years' and 'He Stopped Loving Her Today,' the latter of which is often at the top of industry lists of the greatest country music singles of all time."
He had his first No. 1 hit in 1959, with "White Lightning."
He was once married to another country star and singing partner, Tammy Wynette. "In 1983," WSMV adds, "Jones married the former Nancy Ford Sepulvado. The union, he repeatedly said, began his rehabilitation from drugs and alcohol and prolonged his life."
In December 2010, All Things Considered looked at "George Jones: The Voice Of Heartbreak" as part of NPR's "50 great voices" series.
As the show reported:
Jones has made a career out of heartbreak and pain, but he says it's not who he is as a person.
"It's not that you're unhappy when you're doing ballads," Jones says. "It's just that I try to live the song. During that three minutes or whatever it is, you try to step in that person's shoes. It seems for some reason the words tell you right away that you know how they feel."
NPR's music team will have much more about Jones and his legacy later today.