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LOUISVILLE, KY. (WDRB) -- Country music Hall of Famer and Grand Ole Opry member George Jones dies Friday at age 81 at Nashville's Vanderbilt University Medical Center.
A news release from his PR firm says he was hospitalized April 18 with fever and irregular blood pressure.
His hits included "She Thinks I Still Care," "The Grand Tour," "Walk Through This World With Me," "Tender Years" and "He Stopped Loving Her Today." The latter song is considered by many to be one of the greatest country music singles of all time.
"A singer who can soar from a deep growl to dizzying heights, he is the undisputed successor of earlier natural geniuses such as Hank Williams and Lefty Frizzell," wrote Bob Allen in the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum's "Encyclopedia of Country Music."
"Why Baby Why" was his first top 10 country single in 1955, the first of more than 160 singles he placed on the charts -- more than any other artist in any musical format. In the 1970s he recorded several hits with his then-wife Tammy Wynette, including "We're Gonna Hold On," "Golden Ring" and "Near You."
Jones and Wynette divorced in the mid-seventies, and his solo career didn't take off again until 1980 when he recorded "He Stopped Loving Her Today." He won Country Music Association prizes for best male vocal and top single. He also won the CMA's top male vocalist award in 1980 and 1981, and a Grammy in 1981 for best male country music performance.
He played hundreds of shows in the following years and was given the Kennedy Center Honor for lifetime achievement in 2008.