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Watch George Strait and Alan Jackson pay tribute to George Jones with this heart-wrenching performance Gunhand Wes/YouTube screenshot
Gunhand Wes/YouTube screenshot

When George Jones died on April 26, 2013, the world lost more than a voice. We lost a friend, a champion and a man that stood for it all. So when Alan Jackson and George Strait took the stage at the CMA Awards in 2013 to pay tribute to George Jones, it was a poignant tribute.

With both artists steeped in traditional country music, as well as friends of the Possum, other than perhaps including Vince Gill no other artists made more sense to sing Jones’ iconic “He Stopped Loving Her Today,” a song that not only represents George’s career, but many also consider it to be the greatest country music song of all time. As the lyrics slipped out over that crying pedal steel, the world realized all over again just what we had lost.

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This wasn’t the first time Alan stepped up to remind people about how important George Jones was to country music.

Back in 1999, George Jones’ song “Choices” was up for CMA Single of the Year, and he was asked to perform the song live on the show. For whatever reason, the producers asked George to cut his song to a mere 60 seconds. Insulted, George not only chose to not perform, but he also boycotted the show entirely.

What transpired was one of the greatest CMA Awards moments ever. Without notifying anyone other than his band members, Alan Jackson took the stage for his full-length performance, but abruptly stopped mid-song, waiting out a two count, and then launched into George’s song “Choices.”

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Backstage Alan issued a statement that said, “Had George Jones died, there would have been a 10-minute tribute to him on this show. But he lived, and they wouldn’t give him 30 seconds.”

Looking at the 2013 performance, which came in at a full three and a half minutes, it seems as though he may have been right.

Based in Chicago but often in Nashville, Ken Churilla is a contributor for Rare Country. Follow him @KenChurilla and join the conversation @RareCountry.
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