For many reasons, the names George Jones and Tammy Wynette ring bells in the ears of country music lovers. Unfortunately, an ugly marriage is one of the bells. Although the two recorded some of the best country music to date, their unheroic marriage remains a dent in their accomplishments. Join Facts Verse as we unravel why George Jones and Tammy Wynette had the ugliest marriage in country music.
George Jones and Tammy Wynette originally met in a Nashville recording studio, where they later deepened their friendship.
When Wynette met Jones, she found a kindred spirit in the man who had been her idol growing up. Over time, the two grew closer than friends or casual acquaintances. Conveniently, Wynette was having marital problems at the time, which paved the way for their relationship to progress. She took advantage of her newly discovered happiness and drove away with Jones and her three girls. Wynette hastily left for Mexico and filed for divorce from her second husband. Apparently, she married him before the breakup of her first marriage was finalized, making her second marriage invalid. Therefore, legally speaking, her second marriage was not valid. With nothing in their way, George and Tammy both entered into their third marriage on February 16, 1969. Together, they have six children from their prior marriages. The following year, the couple welcomed a baby girl, Tamala Georgette.
The partnership between Wynette and Jones was a turning point in both of their careers.
By joining Wynette’s record label, Jones and Wynette were able to work together more easily, and their duets were unforgettable. Take Me, a duet included on their debut album, We Go Together (1971), was a huge smash. Their song “The Ceremony” was a duet of the couple singing their wedding vows to one another.
Jones and Wynette almost immediately began touring together, and their tour bus had the slogan “Mr and Mrs Country Music.” To them, it didn’t matter who was the bigger draw at any given venue; both could share the spotlight. They were completely devoted to their performance. To quote Jones: “When we were onstage, we were in our own little heaven.”
Despite the success they enjoyed, especially after coming together, their marriage life didn’t seem to have been picture-perfect after all. One would think love as outstanding as theirs would help with Jones’ drinking habit, but no. Even after getting married for the third time, Jones kept up his habit of binge drinking. It was apparent that Jones was an alcoholic. Consider the time he went to the liquor shop on a lawnmower, an adventure that would later inspire a painting in Nashville. He supposedly did that because Wynette had hidden the car keys, so he couldn’t drive to the liquor store.
In her 1979 autobiography, Wynette wrote of Jones chasing her around their house with a rifle after returning home drunk. ‘I Lived to Tell It All’, Jones’ autobiography, includes his response to Wynette’s claim. He wrote “…Tammy claimed I fired a gun at her as she ran across our backyard. Nonsense.” He went on to describe their connection as “stormy and passionate”. Nonetheless, he was not amused by the way he was portrayed shooting up the house he had “worked so hard to restore” in a TV movie based on Wynette’s memoirs.
Around four years later, Wynette’s patience ran out with Jones’ heavy drinking, and she filed for divorce. She later clarified that the attempted divorce was an effort to control Jones’ alcoholism and that the couple were still together. They came up with another love-themed collaboration titled “We’re Gonna Hold On.” While their duet was a huge hit, even that couldn’t save their marriage.
Although they tried to work things out, their marriage problems remained. Jones started drinking again, and his conduct became increasingly unpredictable.
After getting into a heated discussion with Wynette about missing a recording session, Jones loaded up his brand-new Cadillac and headed to Florida.
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This led to Wynette once again filing for divorce, but this time, it wasn’t a publicity stunt.
The divorce was finalized in March of 1975, and after everything was said and done, Wynette was in possession of their daughter, band, tour bus, and their Nashville home. A mature Jones reflected, “I let Tammy have everything – didn’t fight it.” In the open, Jones accepted responsibility for their split and expressed the desire for amicable relations.
Sadly, there was no reunion for Mr and Mrs Country Music. Jones appeared to be the one who grieved the most once the couple finally decided to go their separate ways.
There were times when he made the trip from Alabama only to drive by the driveway of the house they had once shared in Nashville. His music career wasn’t also as vibrant as it was before the divorce. Join Facts verse as we unravel why George Jones and Tammy Wynette had the ugliest marriage in country music.
However, Jones gave Wynette a brand-new Thunderbird for Mother’s Day a year after they split up. Even though the ex-spouses did not intend to reconcile, they did exchange holiday gifts that year. Jones and Wynette continued to perform as a duo and overseen by the same record label after their marriage ended. Following the success of their first duet, “Golden Ring,” they teamed up again for another chart-topping single, “Near You.” Eventually, the divorce started to have an effect on their professional lives. He earned the moniker “No Show” due to his chronic absence from concerts, which he blamed on his drinking and cocaine use. While Jones was kept down in a spiral by his addictions, fans chanting “Where’s George?” at Wynette’s concerts.
After her fifth marriage to George Richey in 1978, Wynette later sued Jones for failing to pay child support. Soon afterwards, Wynette allegedly abducted by a man who assaulted her. Although Wynette never confirmed or denied the rumours, many people believed that an unhinged Jones follower was responsible for the alleged assault. However, Wynette’s daughter claimed that her mother had made up the narrative to make up for Richey’s abuse. When asked about it, Richey only denied the allegations.
Despite their rough experiences and claims against each other, they still reconciled on a professional level. After releasing “Together Again” and “Two Story House” in 1980, the two appeared to have accepted their decision to pursue separate lives. They got back together in 1995 to record a duet album and go on tour. At the end of the day, they managed to become good friends. Join Facts verse as we unravel why George Jones and Tammy Wynette had the ugliest marriage in country music.
But before Mr and Mrs Country came together, they both had a life and a past.
Tammy Wynette was a sensation during her heyday. She acclaimed as the “First Lady of Country Music.” Before she became one of the best-selling female musicians of the late 60s and 70s, she had the life of a housewife. Euple Byrd, her first husband, married her when she was only 17 years old. The marriage short-lived despite the fact that they had three daughters together. Tammy abandoned Euple before the birth of their third child, Tina. Unfortunately, Tina was born prematurely and developed spinal meningitis. To pay for her rising medical bills, Tammy took jobs as a beautician and a performer.
Her performing endeavours saw her perform on the “Country Boy Eddie Show” and later with Porter Wagoner on stage. After getting signed to Epic Records by Billy Sherril, she changed her name from Virginia Wynette Pugh to Tammy Wynette. Among her remarkable hits are “D-I-V-O-R-C-E” and “Stand By Your Man”, with the latter winning her a Grammy. Wynette’s health continued to decline in later years. She reportedly underwent more than 15 major operations. She allegedly became dependent on painkillers. Wynette was a performer till the day she passed away, on April 6, 1998, at the age of 55.
Over the course of her life, Tammy had walked down the aisle five different times and had four daughters.
George Jones, AKA Mr Country Music, was born on September 12, 1931, in Saratoga, Texas. He moved to Jasper, Texas when he was 16 years old to pursue a career in music. George Jones had a humble beginning, singing at a radio station, which paved the way for his rise to fame. He put out his first record on January 19, 1954, and was nicknamed “Possum Jones.” He went on to acquire other nicknames throughout his career. Despite quite a successful music career, his personal life was nothing to write home about. His alcoholism and drug usage took the balance out of his life and almost ruined his music. Things went south for Jones, and he ended up broke and homeless. He was, however, fortunate enough to have met Nancy Sepulvado, whom she later married.
He credited her with getting his life back together. The responsibilities of his career, finances, and sobriety were all handled by Sepulvado. With his career on the up and up, Jones continued to produce excellent country music, eventually winning the Grammy Award for Best Male Country Vocal Performance for his song “Choices.” Jones passed away at the age of 81 on April 16, 2013, following multiple hospitalizations for respiratory illnesses.
Though it is arguable that they had the ugliest marriage in the history of country music, there is no denying they were great performers. They will forever celebrated for their contributions to country music. They have earned recognition and accomplishments that are rare among country artists. For instance, Wynette inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1998. Her iconic 1968 hit Stand By Your Man preserved in its original recording by the U.S. Library of Congress in 2011. Jones was also admitted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1992. He’s also a recipient of the Kennedy Center Honor and the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. Such astounding accomplishments ensure their place in country music history for the foreseeable future, despite their unheroic marriage.
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