George Jones and Tammy Wynette were hailed as "Mr. and Mrs. Country Music," a title that they even painted across the side of their tour bus in the early 1970s. But the marriage was the stuff classic country songs are made out of: hard drinking, loud arguments, and broken hearts. Wynette died in her sleep in 1998, at age 55. Jones passed away on Friday after being hospitalized for a fever and irregular blood pressure, according to his publicists. He was 81.
Their relationship had a dramatic start. Both Wynette and Jones were married to other people when they fell in love while on tour in the late 1960s. According to The New York Times, in 1968 Wynette was arguing with her husband, songwriter Don Chapel, in their dining room when Jones showed up, flipped over the dining room table, and told Wynette that he loved her. She took her three children and left with Jones that night.
People often think that Wynette's hit song, "Stand By Your Man," was about her tumlutous relationship to George Jones, but it actually came out before the two of them were married. Her 1978 autobiography of the same name, on the other hand, devotes plenty of pages to him. The first line is: "The first time I met George Jones he was in bed with another woman."
"WHEN MY MOM MARRIED MY dad, she was marrying her hero," their daughter, Tamala Georgette Jones, wrote in her 2011 memoir, "The Three of Us: Growing Up with Tammy and George." "Dad was a musical hero to Mom, but it was much more than that. Mom believed she had finally found her Prince Charming. She desperately wanted a champion. Sure, she knew he had a few rough edges when he drank, but like a lot of women have thought about men they loved, she believed she could change him. She never could change him, but she loved Dad, even as she was leaving him."
Wynette and Jones divorced in 1975, but teamed up to make a new album together in 1980. Below, they sing their hit song "Golden Ring" together for the first time after their divorce.
They also toured and recorded again together in the mid 1990s, and performed together many times in between. 1995, the two topped the charts with a hit single, "One."