By Derby Jones, Publisher
Country Music Hall of Famer, legend and Williamson County resident George Jones’ life is being celebrated today as he is laid to rest. Jones died last week at the age of 81. Grand Ole Opry member and country music star Joe Diffie reflected on his friendship with George Jones this week with the Williamson Herald.
Diffie, a Brentwood resident, said he first met “The Possum” on Jones’ tour bus before a 1994 show in Columbia, S.C.
“I was supposed to open the show for George Jones, but George wanted to open the show so he could enjoy his TV shows on the tour bus. I walked onto his bus looking for [him], he was sitting in a chair, boxer shorts and T-shirt, just relaxing,” said Diffie laughing as he thought about the story. “I remember singing a few of his songs and he was impressed that I knew his songs. I was so intimidated by him that day but [Jones] put you at ease. He made you feel like family – here is my idol sitting in his boxer shorts singing with me and I just met him.”
Diffie grew up listening to George Jones thanks to his father’s love of his music. Diffie remembers seeing his dad cry for the first time at about the age of 5.
“My dad said no one could sing like that, to bring tears to his eyes,” he reflected. “After that day, I became a huge fan. George Jones was by biggest musical influence, he just came by it so naturally, he was an innovator.”
Diffie recorded the song “I Don’t Need Your Rocking Chair,” with Jones and was able to surprise his father by introducing him at the recording.
Diffie described George Jones as “grandfatherly.”
“He could not have been a nicer person. He was quiet and could be awkwardly shy but he was like a grandpa to us. He loved my daughter Kylie like she was his own grandchild.”
According to Diffie, once George Jones was comfortable he would open to you and would love to tell stories.
“He would tell you stories about meeting Elvis,” Diffie said. “He loved to talk about cars, and he loved to go out to eat, but our conversations seemed to be about family, not music.”
Diffies’ and Jones’ relationship grew thanks in part to their respective wives Theresa Diffie and Nancy Jones making dinner plans.
“Our wives got to be friends and we became social friends, dinner once a month,” said Diffie. “However, George was regimented. He had to eat by five so he could get back to watch is favorite TV shows. If you were late, he would order for you,” laughed Diffie.
Diffie remembers hanging out with George Jones at a CMA Awards show and George ran into Merle Haggard on the way to the men’s room.
“They hugged each other and then broke into singing “Yesterday’s Wine,” I helped with the harmony. Then George went to the bathroom about that time his name was called for the award. Thank God for Nancy.”
“George and Nancy are just kind, nice people,” said Diffie. “It’s an honor to be friends with your hero. George Jones was a special person, and he will be missed.”
Vince Gill remembers Jones
Country music star and Grand Ole Opry member Gill also has fond memories of the legend George Jones.
“I’m pretty darn lucky to be such a really good friend. Regardless of him being the greatest ever – he liked me and I liked him. And Nancy … she made his life and saved it for the rest of us,” Gill said.
Williamson County legislators honor Jones
“George Jones was a constituent of Rep. [Glen] Casada’s and mine,” said Sen. Jack Johnson (R-Franklin). “Although he is a legend in the music world, George was so down to earth that upon meeting him you immediately felt like you were speaking to an old friend rather than a superstar. That sincerity transcended through his music as he touched many hearts during his long successful career. All of his friends and neighbors in Williamson County join many, many fans across the world in expressing our deepest condolences to his family. We will miss him.”
“It is fitting that George Jones will be remembered in a ceremony at the Opry where he epitomized all that is great about country music,” added Rep. Glen Casada (R-Thompson Station). “We also want to honor his memory through a resolution of the General Assembly when the legislature returns in January to express this state’s gratitude to a favorite son who touched many lives through music. Our hearts go out to his family at this difficult time.”
Posted on: 5/1/2013