The news that country music legend George Jones had died at the age of 81 came to me in the form of an overheard conversation this morning. The fact that I had been listening to one of his CDs in my pickup just minutes before could not be called a coincidence since his are the ones I listen to the most.

I have been a Jones fan since the '50s when he sang “White Lightning.” As far as I am concerned, George can only be compared to Hank Williams Sr. when it comes to talent, as well as lifestyle.

I have told the story to friends quite often about the connection I feel to Jones, which started at a night club on South 65 called the Twin Acres. I was home on leave from the Navy and went to the club, unaware that George Jones would be performing there. As it turned out, very few people were aware of that fact due to the poor promotion by the owners of the club. The only hit he had at that time was “White Lightning,” and he played it often that night to the crowd of 16 people and the owners. I also recall the owners borrowing money from a man at our table to pay Jones the whopping $200 fee before he would finish the show. Had they known what a star he would become I am sure they would have advertised the show better.

George Jones can, as one of his songs says, “Tear your heart out when he sings,” just like Hank Williams always has. It is sad to think there will be no more songs, but fortunately I still have all his CDs.