Eight years ago today, country music icon George Jones took the stage for the final time.
A career that spanned nearly 60 years, and produced some of country music’s most memorable hits like “He Stopped Loving Her Today,” “White Lightning,” “Tennessee Whiskey” and more, George wanted to die on stage… and he nearly did.
At 80 years old, fresh off a vicious respiratory infection, George announced his farewell tour knowing full well that he probably wouldn’t make it to the end of it. Dubbed The Grand Tour, the 60-city tour was supposed to culminate in a big farewell performance at Nashville’s Bridgestone Area.
In an old interview with The Tennessean, George’s wife Nancy said begged him to come off the road and stop performing, but he wouldn’t.
“I said, ‘Why are you agreeing to everything?’ and he said, ‘’Cause I’m not going to be here. I’m going to agree to anything they ask. Promise me you’ll make a tribute show out of it, and I’ll see it from heaven.’”
And then after his final show in Knoxville, Tennessee, 8 years ago today, George knew he was done:
“I just did my last show. And I gave ’em hell.”
George was admitted to the hospital shortly thereafter, where he stayed until he passed away on April 26th, 2013, at the age of 81.
He closed out his final performance with his signature song, “He Stopped Loving Her Today.”
Below is some rare footage from that final night.
His final performance of “He Stopped Loving Her Today.”
And of course, Alan Jackson performed at Jones’ funeral, a moving rendition of “He Stopped Loving Her Today.”