Country music stars come out to bid George Jones a final farewell
By Tim Ghianni
NASHVILLE (Reuters) - Country music legend George Jones' final standing ovation, after a career filled with them, came on Thursday afternoon at the Grand Ole Opry House in Nashville.
And the song that brought about 4,000 fans and friends to their feet was Jones' signature song, "He Stopped Loving Her Today," fittingly a tune about both love and death.
Alan Jackson, a long-time friend, sang the song, channeling Jones' country traditionalism. Jackson ended by removing his white cowboy hat and waving it toward the heavens, looking up, tears on his cheeks, saying: "We love you, George."
Jones, whose honky-tonk career spanned more than six decades, died on April 26 at the Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville after being hospitalized with a fever and irregular blood pressure. He was 81.
Tanya Tucker and the Imperials, Randy Travis, The Oak Ridge Boys, Charlie Daniels, Travis Tritt, Kid Rock, Ronnie Milsap, Kenny Chesney and Wynonna Judd all paid tribute to Jones during a service that lasted 2 hours and 45 minutes.
All four Nashville TV stations carried the event live.
After Jackson left the stage, a spotlight shone on the yellow flower-draped coffin, and family members began to exit as a recording of Jones' voice filled the Grand Ole Opry with "When the Last Curtain Falls."
It was Jones' final farewell to the Grand Ole Opry, the home of the venerable radio show in which he had been a cast member since 1956, almost from the East Texas beginnings of a career that was celebrated by musicians, politicians and other guests throughout the service. Continued...