George Jones’ friends from all walks of life gathered Thursday (May 2) at the Grand Ole Opry house in Nashville to say goodbye to the man widely acknowledged as the greatest singer in the history of country music.
With Jones’ casket in front of the stage, former first lady Laura Bush and CBS chief Washington correspondent Bob Schieffer joined Kenny Chesney, Barbara Mandrell and others in offering eulogies to their friend who died Friday at age 81.
As expected, music played a major role during the two and a-half hour service that was attended by Garth Brooks, Trisha Yearwood, Dierks Bentley, Jamey Johnson and numerous country stars.
Tanya Tucker and the Imperials began the musical tributes with “Old Rugged Cross,” followed by other traditional gospel songs performed by Randy Travis (“Amazing Grace”), the Oak Ridge Boys (“Farther Along”), Charlie Daniels (“Softly and Tenderly”) and Wynonna (“How Great Thou Art”).
In solo acoustic performances, Travis Tritt sang Kris Kristofferson’s “Why Me Lord” and Kid Rock provided an original song, “The Best of Me.” Vince Gill and Patty Loveless reprised “Go Rest High on That Mountain,” while Brad Paisley selected a Tom T. Hall classic, “Me and Jesus” and Ronnie Milsap sang “When the Grass Grows Over Me,” a No. 3 hit for Jones in 1968.
Alan Jackson closed the service with Jones’ most famous song, “He Stopped Loving Her Today.”