George Jones and The Jones Boys-Live In Texas 1965.

Label: Ace Records.

By 1985, singer-songwriter George Jones was approaching his fifty-fourth birthday and was once again, one of the giants of country music, and had thirteen number one country hits to his name. This included the four he had released since he made his comeback in 1980. The first of these was the seminal country single He Stopped Loving Her Today. For George Jones this was a game-changer and relaunched a career that not long ago seemed in terminal decline.

The problem began in 1964, when George Jones began a fifteen year battle with the bottle. By 1967, things had gotten so bad, that George Jones’ binge drinking and use of amphetamines had caught up with him, and he had no option but to enter a neurological hospital for treatment for his addictions. 

Sadly, the treatment wasn’t a success and after he left the hospital, George Jones’ second wife Shirley Corley would go to great lengths to stop him drinking. She even tried hiding his car keys, but George Jones drove his lawnmower eight miles to Beaumont, Texas, where he was able to buy liquor. Shirley Corley was fighting a losing battle in her attempt to save George Jones from himself.

Two years later, in 1969, George Jones was married Tammy Wynette who was eleven years his junior, and had grown up listening to her future husband’s records. It was a case of love at first sight on George Jones’ part, and he even bought himself out of his contract with Musicor Records so he could tour with Tammy Wynette. However, by 1970 George Jones was once again fighting his demons.

In October 1970, Tammy Wynette and George Jones’ daughter had just become parents for the first time, which was something to celebrate. However, George Jones embarked on a drunken bender, which resulted in him being committed to the Watson Clinic in Lakeland, Florida, for ten days. When he was released, George Jones had been prescribed Librium, and although he enjoyed periods of sobriety, as the seventies progressed, his drinking worsened and his behaviour became erratic. By 1976, Tammy Wynette had divorced George Jones and country music first couple were no more.

They still toured for the rest of the seventies, and in 1980 released the album Together Again, but by then, George Jones had given up any hope that he would be reconciled with Tammy Wynette. However, in 1980 George Jones embarked upon a comeback after fifteen turbulent years when he had battled his demons.

Having signed to Epic, George Jones’ comeback began and in 1980 he released the classic He Stopped Loving Her Today, which gave his first number one country hit in three years. There was no stopping George Jones who in 1981 released Still Doin’ Time which topped the US Country charts. At last, George Jones luck was changing.

By 1981, George Jones had met a new partner, Nancy Sepulvado who helped transform his life. She helped him sort out his finances and kept George Jones away from the drug dealers, who took revenge on  Nancy Sepulvado by kidnapping her daughter. Despite this she continued to help her new partner transform his life.

In 1982, George Jones and Merle Haggard joined forces and duetted on Yesterday’s Wine, which topped the US Country charts. George Jones then enjoyed his thirteenth US Country number one with I Always Get Lucky with You in 1983. By then, it looked as if George Jones’ had turned his life around.

Sadly, George Jones was still drinking and was addicted to cocaine, and when he tried to quit the drug in the autumn of 1983, went on a drunken rampage, in Alabama. This resulted in the police being called and George Jones being committed to Hillcrest Psychiatric Hospital, where he was diagnosed as delusional and suffering from malnutrition. For a man who was one of the giants of country music, his career was once again at a crossroads.

This must have been a wakeup call to George Jones, who managed to quit drinking and in Alabama in March 1984, the fifty-two year old played his show sober since the early seventies. 

Meanwhile, George Jones and producer Billy Sherrill had formed a formidable and successful partnership at Epic that resulted in number one country singles and successful albums, including 1980s I Am What I Am which was certified platinum and 1981s Still The Same Ole Me which was certified gold. Billy Sherrill had helped transform George Jones’ career, as he released six albums between 1980 and 1984.  However, executives at Epic noticed an omission from George Jones’ musical CV…a live album.

For one of the most prolific artists in the history of country music, the lack of a live album was a glaring omission from George Jones’ CV and Epic were keen that he rectified this. First Time Live which was produced by Billy Sherrill was released in 1985 and reached forty-five in the US Country charts. However, after the release of First Time Live, it turned out that it was actually a case of Second Time Live for George Jones.

Twenty years previously, George Jones’ manager and producer was Houston-based HW Daily, who was a well known within country music circles. He had cofounded the Texas-based record label Starday Records and during the fifties and sixties, worked with some of the top country singers. This included George Jones who Pappy Daily had mentored since he recorded his debut single No Money In This Deal which was released in February 1954. For George Jones and Pappy Daily this was the start of a fruitful partnership.

Eleven years later, in 1965, and George Jones had spent the best part of ten years touring and recording non stop and this had paid off. Now George Jones was a successful recording artist, and had already enjoyed number one country singles with 1959s White Lightning, 1961s Tender Years and 1962s She Thinks I Still Care in 1962. George Jones who was a prolific recording artist had already released over twenty album. However, he still had to release a live album, and Pappy Daily had decided that the time had come for George Jones and The Jones Boys to record a live album the next time they were in town.

Pappy Daily hired the Houston venue Dancetown USA, which was where George Jones and The Jones Boys would record their first ever live album. This wasn’t going to be the usual type of live album where applause was later overdubbed onto a studio recording. Instead, Pappy Daily future generations to hear George Jones and The Jones Boys at the peak of their powers, on what he belied was a musical equivalent of a historical document. It features on George Jones and The Jones Boys’ Live In Texas 1965 which was originally released by Ace Records in 1992, and was recently remastered and reissued in 2018. Live In Texas 1965 is an important reminder of George Jones and The Jones Boys during what was an important period for the legendary bandleader.

As 1965 dawned, George Jones had twenty-five top twenty hits to his name, including nineteen top ten hits and three number ones in the country charts. He signed to Musicor Records in February 1965, and began what was a new chapter in his career. Little did he know that while he would continue to enjoy commercial success, the next fifteen years would be turbulent and troubled. However, that was all in the future, and in 1965, George Jones was preparing to record his first live album.

The exact date of the concert at Dancetown USA is unknown, and it’s speculated that the recording took place in either late February or March of 1965. Joining George Jones was his usual backing band The Jones Boys which is thought included drummer Glen Davis, bassist and backing vocalist Donald Lyle, guitarist Jerry Starr, fiddler Charlie Justice and Sonny Curtis on steel guitar. However, it wasn’t just The Jones Boys that would take to the stage with George Jones. 

To augment The Jones Boys, George Jones and Pappy Daily bought pedal steel player Buddy Emmons and fiddlers’ Rufus Thibodeaux and Red Hayes. This begs the question were Sonny Curtis and Charlie Justice given the night off or were they even part of the band when the live album was recorded at Dancetown USA? Sadly, that isn’t clear, and speculation surrounds the lineup of the band.

When the night came for George Jones and The Jones Boys to record their first live album, Pappy Daily had wisely decided that two sets should be recorded. This meant that they would be able to choose the best songs when they came to release the album. However, despite spending a considerable sum on hiring the venue and bringing guest artists onboard, one of Pappy Daily’s stipulations was to keep things tight and lay off the chatter between songs which would save tape. This was all part of  George Jones’ act, especially by 1965 when many of his performances were alcohol fuelled. However, Pappy Daily was protective of George Jones, and want his friend on his best behaviour.

For most of the performance, that was the case, but during the two sets, there were several false starts and the sometimes, George Jones and his band stumbled through announcements. To make matters worse, there were problems with the PA system picking up the sound of the audience which could be heard on the tape. As Pappy Daily watched on, he  must have wondered how much tape George Jones and The Jones Boys were going to use by the end of the night and what it would cost him? 

By the end of the night, Pappy Daily packed up the pile of tapes that had been used to record George Jones and The Jones Boys and took them back to his office, where they were stored in his vaults. When he took time to listen back to what later became Live In Texas 1965, he eventually came to the conclusion that he wasn’t going to release George Jones and The Jones Boys first live album.

When George Jones and The Jones Boys heard this, it was a huge disappointment, as they knew that within the tapes of the two shows, there was plenty of quality material for a live album that would be a reminder of the group at the peak of their powers. George Jones and The Jones Boys were disappointed in Pappy Daily’s decision, and couldn’t quite work out why he decided not to release the album.

This seemed strange to George Jones and The Jones Boys as Pappy Daily wasn’t in the habit of wasting money, and he had spent a lot of money recording their two sets at Dancetown USA, in Houston. By not releasing what became Live In Texas 1965, he had no chance of recouping any of the money he had spent. 

Pappy Daily never made any attempt to release George Jones and The Jones Boys’ first live album, and in 1985 Epic released First Time Live. By then, Pappy Daily was eighty-three, and his sons and grandson were now working in the music business. However, they had made no attempt to release what was George Jones and The Jones Boys’ 1965 live album.

Sadly, two years later, Pappy Daily passed away on December the ‘5th’ 1987, aged eighty-five, and by then George Jones’ comeback was continuing apace. George Jones was a giant of country music, thanks in part to Pappy Daily who had discovered him and guided him during the early years of his career.

Five years after Pappy Daily’s death, Ace Records released a compilation that featured twenty-five of the tracks George Jones and The Jones Boys had recorded during the two sessions at Dancetown USA, in Houston in 1965. They became as Live In Texas 1965, which was released in 1992, and rather belatedly, the songs that had lain in the vaults for twenty-seven years were available for everyone to hear.

Since then, Live In Texas 1965 has been long out of print, and a new generation of music fans have been unable to discover what should’ve been George Jones and The Jones Boys’ first live album. However, twenty-six years after the original release of Live In Texas 1965, Ace Records decided to remaster and reissue this compilation which is a remarkable musical document that is a reminder of George Jones and The Jones Boys at the peak of their powers.

Despite his hard living lifestyle, George Jones is in remarkably good voice on Live In Texas 1965 as he works his way through twenty-five tracks that he originally recorded at Starday Records between 1954-1958, then Mercury Records between 1959 and 1961, and finally, for United Artists between 1962 and 1965. These tracks featured George Jones and The Jones Boys plus some special guests.

After the introduction to Live In Texas 1965, George Jones and The Jones Boys revisit his first number one singe White Lightning, which was released in 1959, which is followed by Something I Dreamed from 1964 and two singles from 1961 Achin’, Breakin’ Heart and She Thinks I Still Care. By then, George Jones is breathing life and meaning into the lyrics and continues to do so on Accidentally On Purpose from 1960 before changing this around on Who Shot Son? which closes the first set on a resounding high.

Following the intermission and C Jam Blues, an introduction gives way to Please Talk To My Heart and Sing A Sad Song which are played by Don Adams and The Jones Boys. They join forces with Gene Emmons on Pan Handle Rag, before Don Adams and The Jones Boys are reunited on Pan Handle Rag. After that, George Jones makes a welcome returns, and takes centre-stage.

George Jones opens this part of the set with I’m Ragged But I’m Right which was originally recorded in 1958, and follows this with A Poor Man’s Riches, Your Tender Years and Where Does A Little Tear Come From? Then like any good bandleader, George Jones lets his backing band The Jones Boys enjoy another moment in the sun.

The Jones Boys are joined by Buddy Emmons on pedal steel and fiddlers Rufus Thibodeaux and Red Hayes on an immersive rework of the Cajun national anthem Jole Blon. After this, George Jones returns and closes the second set on a high with Big Harlan Taylor from his 1960 album Singing The Blues, She’s Lonely Again and a medley of The Race Is and Hold It. 

Little did George Jones and The Jones Boys realise that it would be twenty-seven years before the two live sets they had recorded at Dancetown USA in 1965 would eventually be released by Ace Records as Live In Texas 1965. This was a popular release, and a reminder of George Jones and The Jones Boys at the peak of their powers in 1965. 

This was quite a feat, as the period between 1964 and 1979, saw George Jones go into what looked like a terminal decline. However, he was still holding things together during early 1965 when Live In Texas was recorded. However, after that, George Jones was still a successful artist, and regarded as one of the giants of country music, but he was a troubled soul who was continually battling his demons. He tried to dousing the flames with alcohol and when this didn’t work resorted to drugs, having originally taken amphetamine to cope with a gruelling touring and recording schedule. This was a huge mistake and one he would regret.

Despite his hard living lifestyle, George Jones continued to enjoy a successful recording career, and became the comeback King in 1980 when he joined forces with producer Billy Sherrill. This was the start of ten-year period where man who is nowadays regarded as the greatest living country singer enjoyed an Indian Summer that lasted until 1990. That wasn’t the end of George Jones by a long shot.

George Jones recording career drew to a close in 2005, when he released his fifty-ninth studio album Hits I Missed…And One I Didn’t. By then, he had amassed nearly 160 hit singles and was one of the most successful country singers, who was known for his distinctive voice and phrasing which can be heard on Live In Texas 1965. 

Sadly, George Jones, a true giant of country music passed away on April the ’26th’ 2013, aged eighty-two. He was a prolific recording artist who left behind a rich musical legacy, including his fifty-nine studio albums, collaborations and live albums like Live In Texas 1965 which features the greatest living country singer at the peak of his powers.

George Jones and The Jones Boys-Live In Texas 1965.

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