George Jones and Elvis

I was saddened to learn that country music icon George Jones died yesterday at age 81.  Although I am not a huge country fan, over the years I’ve heard plenty of George Jones songs, and it’s easy to appreciate his great talent.  So, I hoped there had been some sort of connection between Elvis and George Jones, because I really wanted to write an ElvisBlog article about him.  Guess what – there were several connections.

George Jones as a youngster and during his days on the Louisiana Hayride

George Jones as a youngster and during his days on the Louisiana Hayride

 

Jones was born in 1931, and by his twelfth birthday, he was playing his guitar and singing for tips on the streets of Beaumont, Texas.  Although he and Elvis got their starts at almost exactly the same time, Jones was three years older due to serving a stint in Korea with the marines.

Elvis began recording at Sun Records in 1954, the same year Jones signed with Starday Records.  By the end of the year, Elvis had regional success with the Rock-a-Billy songs “That’s All Right” and “Good Rockin’ Tonight.”  Jones had less success with his first two honky-tonk releases “No Money in This Deal,” and “You’re in My Heart.”

In November 1954, Elvis signed a contract with the Louisiana Hayride to perform every Saturday night for a year.  In addition, the Hayride took performers out on tour to cities not too distant from Shreveport. Louisiana.  In August 1955, Elvis was on the bill of one of these shows in Conroe, Texas.  George Jones drove over from Beaumont and managed to get in to see Horace Logan, the director of the Hayride.  Logan later described Jones as kind of skinny, with a crew cut, and looking like a teenager (he was actually 24).  Jones sang his latest Starday release “Why Baby Why,” and impressed Logan so much he was allowed to open the show as an unannounced act.

 George Jones 8

After the Conroe show, Logan signed George Jones to a contract, and he became a regular Hayride performer, sometimes appearing on the bill with Elvis.

Elvis and George Jones on Louisiana Hayride show

 

Then “Why Baby Why” quickly became a national country hit for George Jones, and his career took off.   He became the headliner at the Louisiana Hayride.  Notice the playbill below with Jones at the top and Elvis as a special guest.

George Jones  Headlines 1955 show

 

Jones has been quoted saying this about that show, “I still have a copy of one of those posters – well Elvis made it really, really big, but I had one up on him for that one night.”  However, as the hits piled up for Elvis and his fame exploded, he leapfrogged back ahead of Jones as the headliner.

 

One of the most interesting things I found on the internet was a song Jones wrote and recorded titled, “The King is Gone (So Are You).”   As best I can find out, it is autobiographical.  Here’s the scenario.  George Jones was an alcoholic for most of his career, and he had four divorces.  After one of those divorces, Jones was alone in his home, and the ex-wife had cleared out everything – all the furniture and all the china and glassware.  Among the few things she didn’t take was a small table, an Elvis Jim Beam whiskey decanter, and a jar of Flintstones jelly beans..

One of the Jim Beam Elvis decanter collection.  Note tax stamp seal on Elvis’ head.

One of the Jim Beam Elvis decanter collection. Note tax stamp seal on Elvis’ head.

Jones dumped out the jellybeans and used the jar as a glass to drink the Jim Beam, all of it.  As he got good and drunk, he had imaginary conversations with Elvis and Fred Flintstone.  Soon after that, he wrote this song.

Elvis has left the Building (So Have You)

The kicker to this story is that Hanna-Barbera Productions sued George Jones for unauthorized use of their trademarked Yabba Dabba Doo.  Poor Jones couldn’t catch a break.

 

Let’s end with one last story about George Jones.  It has nothing to do with Elvis, but it is classic George Jones lore.

One of the best known stories of Jones’ drinking days happened when he was married to his second wife, Shirley Ann Corley.  She tried to make it physically impossible for him to travel to Beaumont, located eight miles away, and buy liquor.  Because Jones would not walk that far, she would hide the keys to each of their cars before she left the house.  On night, Jones was upset at not being able to find any car keys, but he happened to look out the window.  The light that shone over their property spotlighted their large riding lawn mower.  He is quoted saying, “There, gleaming in the glow, was that ten-horsepower rotary engine under a seat.  A key glistening in the ignition.  I imagined the top speed for that old mower was five miles per hour.  It might have taken an hour and a half or more for me to get to the liquor store, but get there I did.”

 

George Jones

Good bye, George Jones.  You were a classic.

 

©  2013    Philip R Arnold, Original Elvis Blogmeister    All Rights Reserved    www.ElvisBlog.net

 

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17 responses to “George Jones and Elvis

  1. Awesome story !

  2. Pingback: ElvisBlog Mini-Nuggets # 20 | ElvisBlog

  3. Hey, I found a connection on George Jones House YouTube video. That infamous Elvis military hair cut picture is on the wall in George’s what looks like barber shop room!?

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oAIexSr2jIY

    Go to 5:56 on the video.

    -Chris Iroler

    • Hi Chris: I checked it out, and you are right. I did a screen grab and maybe someday it will appear in an ElvisBlog post. Thanks for the tip.

      Phil Arnold, Original ElvisBlogmeister

  4. Pretty cool the following shared a stage with Elvis: faron young, Wanda Jackson, Carl Perkins, johnny Cash, Porter wagoner, George Jones, red sovine, Minnie pearl, among others

  5. I have a elvis decanter still in box and still sealed. how much is it worth? its Elvis with his white jumpsuit on.

    • Hi Cindy:

      I have two suggestions that might help. Please contact either:

      Jerry Osborne, famous Elvis collector, author and historian. His website is jerryosborne.com, his phone number is 360-385-1200, and his e-mail address is JPO@olympus.net.

      Bud Glass at The King’s Ransom: Personal Treasures of Elvis Presley. email: bglass@nettally.com.

      Thanks for reading ElvisBlog. Hope you enjoy it.

      Phil Arnold, Original ElvisBlogmeister

  6. I have a question……
    I have an Elvis Jim Beam decanter, still in the original box, still with the booze in it with the seal never broken.

    With it having alcohol in it, how do I sell it and what would it be worth?
    Thanks!

    • Hi Darlene: I get a lot of requests like this, so I have created a standard reply. Please contact Jerry Osborne, famous Elvis collector, author and historian. His website is jerryosborne.com, his phone number is 360-385-1200, and his e-mail address is JPO@olympus.net.

      Thanks for reading ElvisBlog. Hope you enjoy it.

      Phil Arnold, Original ElvisBlogmeister

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  8. I don’t know where you read that “The King is Gone” was autobiographical or that George Jones even co-wrote it. The fellow behind the song in question is Roger Ferris. Check him out.
    Nice blog.

    • Hi Chris: I found something on the internet that said it was auto-biographical, but who knows where they got the information. Now that I think of it, it probably didn’t say George Jones wrote the song. I probably just assumed it. Good catch.

      Phil Arnold, ElvisBlogmeister

    • Chris: I found a site on the internet that called the song auto-biographical, but who knows where they got the information. Now that I think about it, I don’t remember taht it said George Jones wrote the song. I probably just assumed it. Good Catch

      Phil Arnold: ElvisBlogmeister

  9. Pingback: George Jones and Elvis | 800printer.com

  10. Great blog entry today! There is one other connection, at least, in that Elvis covered George’s “She Thinks I Still Care” on his Moody Blue album. Were there any other instances that either one sang one of the others songs?

    • Thanks for this information. I thought about comparing all the Elvis and George Jones songs for instaces like this, but they both had so many recordings, it was too daunting.

      Phil Arnold, ElvisBlogmeister

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