Locals mourn loss of friend George Jones

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Reporter - Lauren Adams
Photojournalist - Chad Darnall

MARSHALL COUNTY, Ky. - The hits were many and the years- memorable. George Jones, who died Friday after a year of poor health recorded 50 albums over the course of his career. Jones, 81, achieved number one songs in five decades- the 1950s to 1990s.

Clay Campbell with the Kentucky Opry says George Jones just sang a good song, "He sang songs about drinking, cheating. Happy songs about the good life. He sang songs everybody could relate to."

Campbell opened for George later in life when he visited Paducah. He remembers his reaction when he asked for a picture.

"He said, 'I'm glad somebody still wants to have their picture taken with me.' And then he laughed."

Marshall County native Barry Smith, who toured with Jones, also remembers his sense of humor and a trip to the White House.

"He kept looking at his watch. And the President asked if he was in a hurry. George said, 'If I leave now, I'll be able to catch Wheel of Fortune.' So we left," he remembered with a laugh.

Smith was selling cars in Nashville when a co-worker called and said George Jones wanted to meet him. He remembered thinking it was a joke, but just a few days later, he was on tour with the icon.

Smith went on to open 700 times for Jones who became a close friend of the Smith family. Father Lonnie recorded with George and brother Mylon was later added to the tour.

"It was a blessing, all those years," Smith said.

The Smith family will be at Jones' funeral. They say it will be next Wednesday, likely at the Ryman Auditorium. That's a place George Jones sang hundreds of times over the years.

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