On this date, the most infamous country music marriage of all time came to be.
In 1969, George Jones and Tammy Wynette were both stars in the genre and both coming off their share of broken marriages, both divorced twice.
George was already a full-fledged superstar in the genre, with four number ones under his belt and may have been the reason that Tammy got into making country music. Being his younger by 11 years, she had grown up listening to his music and there are some historians who think he may have been her idol.
Tammy had just released her iconic hit single “D-I-V-O-R-C-E” in 1968 and was in the midst of a huge career boom when she first met George Jones in a Nashville recording studio. The two immediately hit it off and the love affair began.
As the story goes, Tammy was still married to songwriter Don Chapel, although it wasn’t going very well. She was actually in the midst of a fight with him when George flipped over their dinner table and first professed his love for her.
Well, pretty much as soon as the divorce paper work cleared, the two took off and tied the knot in Ringgold, Georgia (after first trying to get married in Mexico) on what would be an extremely tumultuous relationship plagued by George’s drug and alcohol problems.
They ended up staying married for just 5 years and got divorced on January 8th, 1975, although they continued collaborating on projects together for many years.
It was truly a wild ride for these two songbirds, but one that shaped the culture of the genre for decades to come.
How George Jones Flipped A Table & Professed His Love For Tammy Wynette
The new Showtime mini-series George & Tammy debuted tonight, and hot damn it’s good.
Telling the beautifully tragic love story of country music legends George Jones and Tammy Wynette, the six-part miniseries stars Michael Shannon and Jessica Chastain, and was inspired by the book The Three of Us: Growing Up With Tammy and George, which was written by the couple’s daughter, Georgette Jones.
The series also features Steve Zahn as Wynette’s fourth husband (following George) and manager George Richey, Walton Goggins will play Jones’ collaborator and friend, songwriter Earl “Peanutt” Montgomery, Pat Healy takes on the role of Wynette’s second husband Don Chapel and David Wilson Barnes will play well-known record producer and songwriter Billy Sherrill.
And in the first episode, the show already dove into some of George’s most memorable (and wild) moments… shooting air holes in the roof of his bus, being so drunk he could barely make it on stage, and of course, flipping the table at Tammy Wynette’s house.
In the climax of episode one, we find George over for dinner at Tammy and her husband at the time, songwriter Don Chapel’s house. And while the show did a great job of depicting it, here’s how it all went down…. according to George himself.
According to his autobiography, I Lived To Tell It All, George remembered that fateful night like this:
“I went inside and sat down with Don while Tammy was fixin’ supper. The next thing I knew, she and Don were in an argument and I was just sitting there quietly drinking.
I found out later that Don was jealous of me and knew I was sweet on his wife. Their voices raised and Don called Tammy a ‘son of a bitch.'”
“I felt rage fly all over me. I jumped from my chair, put my hands under the dinner table, and flipped it over. Dishes, utensils, and glasses flew in all directions. Don’s and Tammy’s eyes got about as big as the flying dinner plates.
A man should never get between a husband and his wife, especially if the man had been drinking and if the husband had been too.
‘Don’t talk to her that way!’ I told Don. “She’s not a son of a bitch!’
‘What the hell are you interfering for?’ Don said. ‘She’s my wife. What the hell business is it of yours?'”
And then George just went for it… full send.
“I still can’t believe what I said next…
‘Because I’m in love with her!’ I blurted out. ‘And I’ll tell you something else, she’s in love with me, aren’t you Tammy?'”
And she did love him too, and she told her husband right there in the dining room… table busted up, dishes on the floor, kids probably afraid.
Tammy grabbed her three kids, and left with George Jones that night. The police later showed up looking for Tammy and the kids after Don called the police claiming that George kidnapped her.
However, George took Tammy and the kids to a hotel because he saw it coming.
And the rest is history… the couple took off to Mexico to get Tammy divorced (which didn’t work… something about Tennessee laws) and got married in February of 1969.
But, I’m sure we’ll get to hear more on that in Episode 2.
Check out the new trailer below: