10 Years Ago: George Jones Performs His Final Concert
Ten years ago today, on April 6, 2013, George Jones performed what turned out to be his final concert, at the Knoxville Civic Coliseum in Knoxville, Tenn.
Jones' final show was part of what was supposed to be his farewell tour, which was originally scheduled to end with the all-star Playin’ Possum! The Final No Show concert on Nov. 22, 2013. But after playing his show in Knoxville, the singer, who seemed to be struggling with his breathing, gave an ominous prediction to his wife Nancy.
“I just did my last show,” Jones said on the bus afterwards. “And I gave ’em hell.”
Jones' final song of the night was "He Stopped Loving Her Today." Shortly after the concert, the country legend entered the hospital, where he remained until he passed away 20 days later, on April 26, 2013.
Jones, then 81, wanted to do one final tour to honor his loyal fans, even though he had been battling health problems for years.
“I begged him to come off that road, and he would not,” Nancy Jones recalls. “He lowered all the keys and tried really, really hard. I would say, ‘Just stop it,’ and he said, ‘In my mind, I think of all those old mamas that saved their money for me, and I was a no-show.’ In the last year, the fans never complained. They knew he was weak, and they knew he was leaving. He just wanted to prove he loved them.”
Following Jones' death, Playin' Possum! The Final No Show turned into a tribute concert. The star-studded event featured performances from Alabama, Lee Greenwood, Reba McEntire, Martina McBride, the Oak Ridge Boys, Miranda Lambert, George Strait, Vince Gill and Alan Jackson, the last of whom performed "He Stopped Loving Her Today."
Months before the scheduled concert, Jones had privately revealed that he didn’t plan on attending Playin' Possum! himself.
“I’m not going to be here,” Jones divulged to his wife. “I’m going to agree to anything they ask. Promise me you’ll make a tribute show out of it, and I’ll see it from heaven."
This story was originally written by Gayle Thompson, and revised by Annie Zaleski.