George Jones earned his nickname over the years while he was struggling with addiction to drugs and alcohol, which would often cause him to miss performances.
But at the 1993 CMA Awards, it wasn’t the booze that kept George Jones off the stage: He just needed to take a leak.
Possum was nominated for Vocal Event of the Year for his song “I Don’t Need Your Rockin’ Chair,” which featured a slew of country music’s biggest names like Vince Gill, Mark Chesnutt, Garth Brooks, Travis Tritt, Joe Diffie, Alan Jackson, Pam Tillis, T. Graham Brown, Patty Loveless and Clint Black.
But just before the award was to be given out, Jones decided he needed to go to the bathroom.
As his wife Nancy recalls in her recent book Playin’ Possum: My Memories of George Jones:
Just about the time the Vocal Event award was coming up on the program, George leaned over to me and said, “I’m going to the bathroom.”
“George!” I said. “Do you have to go right now? It’s almost time for the vocal event award.”
“Oh, don’t worry,” he said. “We’re not going to win anything anyhow. There are a lot of great performances in the category this year. They won’t even miss me.”
“George, you’re going to win this award,” I said.
“No, I’m not,” he said, as he gave me a smirk. “Look who we’re up against. Honey, I’m goin’ to the bathroom.”
The songs they were up against for the award included “A Bad Goodbye” by Clint Black and Wynonna, “Tell Me About It” by Tanya Tucker and Delbert McClinton, “The Heart Won’t Lie” by Reba McEntire and Vince Gill, and “Walkaway Joe” by Trisha Yearwood and Don Henley.
I mean, nothing against those songs, but I’m not sure why George thought he wouldn’t win. And just as Nancy had predicted, when it came time for Shelby Lynne and Steve Wariner to present the award, “I Don’t Need Your Rockin’ Chair” was called out as the winner – while George Jones was still in the bathroom.
Wariner joked about George’s reputation as “No-Show Jones” while the crowd and presenters waited awkwardly for Jones to come to the stage:
“Did he show? Did he show?”
Well finally Jones made it to the stage – but it wasn’t George.
Nancy Jones ran to the microphone to assure everyone that George showed up…but that he was in the bathroom.
The crowd erupted in laughter, as Nancy called on Clint Black to help with the awkward moment. But Clint tossed it right back to Nancy, who instead accepted the award in her husband’s place:
“He’s gonna kill me…
He’s in the bathroom. I promise I’ll have him here in a minute. Somebody find him.
Well, if George was standing here I think he’d say thank you, and…what am I doing?”
It was a hilarious moment, and as Nancy recalled, George was upset that he missed the award when he returned from his bathroom break:
When George returned to his seat, I told him, “You won. I told you that you were going to win.” He was upset that he had missed the award. “I wasn’t gone that long,” he fumed.
At the celebrations after the show, everyone was congratulating George on winning the award. “You did good, man! We’re so proud of you.”
“Well…ah…I didn’t get to see that part of the show,” he said.”