Many have been fascinated by George Jones’ storied life. He is possibly the greatest male vocalist in county music history with 79 top ten hits and 10 number ones including “He Stopped Loving Her Today,” a song often considered as the greatest country song of all time. But his addiction to drugs and alcohol nearly destroyed his career.
This addiction affected his relationships with women, including his volatile marriage to Tammy Wynette. However, when he met Nancy Sepulvado in 1981, his entire world changed.
In his autobiography, George wrote, "When I met my future wife on a blind date in November 1981, I had no idea that someday she would save my life." He continued, "They say love can change the world. I'm here to testify that it changed one man. Friends, family, doctors, therapists, and ministers had tried to save me, but to no avail. But finally, the power of love from one woman, Nancy Jones, made the difference."
Nancy told The Tennessean, “God put me with him to help him get the devil out of him, God put me there to do a job and I did it. She said, “God told me, ‘If you leave him, he’s going to die.’ And I said, ‘You know what — you’re too good of a man to let go to hell and I’m not gonna let you do it.”
In her latest book, “Playin’ Possum,” Nancy Jones picks up the story of George Jones’ life when she first encountered him in the early 1980s. Co-authored with renowned author, Ken Abraham, Nancy felt led to release the book after she nearly died following an episode with COVID-19 in 2021.
She recalled, “I had absolutely no pulse and I died for ten minutes. I saw the prettiest light I had ever seen in my life.” She was in the hospital for four months and lost all her hair, and 70% of her lung capacity and got down to 92 pounds. But the experience changed her. Nancy continued, “I’m here to lead as many people as I can to Jesus Christ, and I won’t stop.”
Nevertheless, “Playin’ Possum” is not for the faint of heart. Nancy describes in detail the escapades she endured including episodes of abuse that nearly killed her.
She said at her book release party, “As hard as it was to write this book, I did not sugarcoat it. I wanted everyone to know that it hurt, and I cried, but if I have to tell the truth, I have to tell it.”
Throughout the book, Nancy repeatedly states, “I know George is a good man underneath it all.” He could be generous to a fault. However, when he was under the influence, (which was often early on) he was not himself and you never knew what might happen. It took very nearly losing his life on a road in Franklin, that finally got him on the right path.
While most would have left George Jones early on, Nancy held on. She stated in her book, “From 1999 to 2013 (when he passed) I got back my husband, a husband I should have had to begin with, a man who trusted God with his strengths and weaknesses, making him the strongest man I’d ever known.”
For those who love biographies, this book is a jewel and as it doesn’t hold back on the truth, the hilarious and the horrendous. For the country music fan, this book is especially a treat, sharing personal anecdotes of Nancy’s encounters in the lives of many who are/were the pillars of Music City. For instance, you will learn how George Jones eating Patsy Cline’s fried chicken ended up saving his life.
Not only that, on October 17, the Still Playin' Possum: Music and Memories of George Jones tribute concert event will premiere as a one-day-only theater presentation. The event was originally recorded on April 25, at the Von Braun Center Propst Arena in Huntsville, Alabama, with a salute to the one and only “No Show Jones.” Special performers include John Berry, Ty Herndon, Heath Wright, Billy Yates, and Anita Cochran. Other added artists include Brad Paisley, Dierks Bentley, Wynonna, Tanya Tucker, Travis Tritt, Jamey Johnson, Sara Evans, Trace Adkins, Justin Moore, Lorrie Morgan, Michael Ray, Mark Chesnutt, Sam Moore, Tracy Byrd, Tracy Lawrence, Aaron Lewis, Charlie Starr of Blackberry Smoke, Dillon Carmichael, Gretchen Wilson, Joe Nichols, Sara Evans, and a special appearance by Randy Travis. Jelly Roll, Riley Green, Uncle Kracker, The Oak Ridge Boys, The Isaacs, and Janie Fricke will round out the final performers' list. Check here to see where the tribute concert is playing near you.
"Stand By Your Man" may have been written by Tammy Wynette, but it was Nancy Jones who stood by George Jones for more than 30 years and helped save his life from cocaine addiction, alcoholism, and other abusive and self-destructive behaviors. The book “Playin Possum” is not to be missed.
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