Ask any fan of country music, and they’ll probably tell you, “He Stopped Loving Her Today” by George Jones is easily in the running for greatest country song of all time.
It’s often times regarded at the “saddest song” in country music as well, and Lord knows, country music has a lot of them.
However, what many people might not know is that the song basically saved Jones’ country music career.
After his marriage fell apart with Tammy Wynette back in 1975 due to his drug and alcohol abuse problems, Ol’ Possum was at a crossroads in his career.
He was beginning to fall out of love with playing country music, and was in a lot of debt due to his legal issues and battle with addiction. But there was one song he released on this date in 1980 that would put his name back on the map, and solidify his place among the country legends: “He Stopped Loving Her Today.”
Written by Bobby Braddock and Curly Putman (who also wrote Wynette’s D-I-V-O-R-C-E), it easily became his most recognizable and popular song. So while Jones himself didn’t write it, it’s often linked back to his love for Tammy.
It was released as the lead single on his album, I Am What I Am, and hit number one on the U.S. Billboard Hot Country Songs, while also reaching as high as number two on the Canadian RPM Country Tracks.
Jones would later win the Grammy Award for Best Male Country Vocal Performance in 1980, as well as the ACM Single of the Year and Song of the Year. It was also named the CMA Song of the Year in both 1980 and 1981.
The song was inspiring to so many up-and-coming artists in the genre, and Alan Jackson even pulled off an impressive rendition of the song at Jones’ funeral back in 2013.
He thanked his ex-wife and his new “husband-in-law” at the 1981 ACM Awards when he won Best Song and Top Male Vocalist.
Alan Jackson Performs “He Stopped Loving Her Today” At 27-Years-Old
It’s always cool seeing some old footage of country music superstars, before anybody even knew who they were.
It’s also crazy to me how many stars competed in these singing competitions, trying to get their name out there, and didn’t even win.
Miranda Lambert and Kacey Musgraves both got their start on Nashville Star – and neither of them won. Morgan Wallen was on The Voice and didn’t make it out of the playoff rounds to compete on the live shows. And the list goes on and on.
It just goes to show how these “competitions” really don’t mean all that much when it comes to finding the next big thing.
But every once in a while, somebody comes through one of these shows and ends up going on to become a superstar… and I guess that’s what keeps us all watching.
Mr. Alan Jackson.
After digging through the vaults, I found an old video from the man himself, competing on the Tennessee News Network’s show You Can Be A Star, a daily talent show featuring amateur country singers, way back in 1985.
Just think, the man was only 27-years-old, no albums to his name, and he was doing everything he possibly could to put his name out there.
In the video, “Al” absolutely CRUSHED George Jones’ hit, “He Stopped Loving Her Today.”
Little did everybody in that room know they were getting to watch a country mega-star in the making.
Talk about the right place at the right time.
Alan Jackson Sings At George Jones’ Funeral
Alan Jackson would later go on to perform at George Jones’ funeral, many years later.
A video resurfaced on YouTube of Alan Jackson singing at country legend George Jones‘ funeral back in 2013, covering one of Jones’ all-time classics: “He Stopped Loving Her Today.”
Fighting back the tears, Jackson delivers an incredible rendition to the crowd, the auditorium at the Grand Ole Opry erupting with claps and cheers as he hits the crescendo of the ’80s classic.
You can tell Alan was doing his best to keep from breaking down, as Jones was an inspiration to himself as well as tons of other country music singers. But as he approaches the final notes, he just can’t quite fight it any longer.
He pulls off his cowboy hat for one last goodbye, and with a tear in his eye, works up the strength to say, “We love you, George.”
Talk about cutting DEEP.