Friends of Country Legend
George Jones Remember His Heart of Gold
It’s hard to believe it has been over a year already since the world lost the King of Country Music — George Jones.
Thankfully, George Jones’s memory and legacy will live on thanks to his friends Charlene and Earl “Peanut” Montgomery. They have honored the memory of their best friend of more than thirty years with a new book entitled The Legend of George Jones: His Life and Death (Heritage Builders Publishing). The book covers the intimate highs and lows of George Jones’s personal life and career, and it lets you learn about George Jones the person, not just the celebrated Hall of Fame Icon.
Charlene and Peanut made a sound decision to set the record straight about their beloved friend and musical collaborator who passed away on April 26, 2013. Throughout his career George Jones had many struggles with substance abuse and a rowdy lifestyle that painted a not-so-flattering picture in the tabloids through most of his life. The book, which is endorsed by all of George Jones’s children, is a tell-it-like-it-is documentation of the real heart and soul of George Jones. An excerpt of the book is included at the end of this article.
I recently had the honor of speaking with Charlene and Peanut about George and the new book:
Really I was sensitive to George, everything that has been published on him, just about, is negative stuff about him, and he was a much better man than the tabloids and [the way] some people have portrayed him to be. I just wanted people to know the good side of George.
In the book you mention your husband Peanut deciding to become a Christian. Do you think that revelation had an impact on George Jones?
I think it did in the later years. In the beginning, I don’t think George truly understood; I think George was a little bit jealous of the fact that Peanut had made a change in his life. We were all best of friends and George really depended on us to be his friend and we had to change avenues of our life; and when Peanut became a Christian, our life and lifestyle changed and George got hurt and felt he had been put on the back-burner. We stopped drinking and partying, and Peanut didn’t want to do those things anymore. George was proud Peanut became a Christian, and at the time deep down George wanted to be the same way, he just didn’t know how to go about it and make a change. He would always ask at first, “How can I be a Christian and get out here and play these night clubs?”
In the book you speak of a song you wrote about Tammy Wynette; how come you never let George see the song?
I didn’t get an opportunity. When I wrote the song we were not on speaking terms with George. I would have loved for him to hear the song, but I just never got a chance to do it.
Is it true that all of George’s children approved of your book?
They all endorsed it and the really approved of it. They spent a lot of time with my family; we had a close relationship. The kids told me the most cherished time of their life was when they came with us and spent time with their daddy. They said when they came here they had a good, close relationship with their dad.
Do you think George Jones got to go to Heaven? [Note: Rocking God’s House believes that we are saved by grace — by faith in Christ — not by good works, and so, essentially, this question is asking if George had a saving faith in Christ.]
I think George, when he had the wreck by the bridge, which is mentioned in the book — and Vestal Goodman went out and talked with him — I think all along George was very spiritually minded. I don’t know whether he knew the Lord or not in his early years. But when he had the wreck I believe it opened his mind to the Lord, and he was very thankful that the Lord let him live and survive. I think that made a big difference in George’s life, and that is when he began to straighten up. Age and time also played a role. I know that George Jones had a heart of gold. He would sing his mother’s favorite song, “Nothing Between My Soul and My Savior.” He would sit and sing that song and tears would run completely down to his chest. I saw it happen many many times. He was a much better person than the picture he painted. I think God made George very special, and, yes, I do believe he now sings and entertains the Man upstairs, as well as all of the angels.
From humble beginnings playing the guitar and singing on the streets of Beaumont, Texas, George Jones became one of the most important and influential singers in music history. The Grammy Award-winning Country Music Hall of Fame and Grand Ole Opry member was the voice behind many of country music’s most enduring hits, such as “White Lightning,” “She Thinks I Still Care,” “Walk Through This World With Me,” “The Door,” “I Was Country When Country Wasn’t Cool” and “He Stopped Loving Her Today,” which is widely regarded as one of the greatest country music singles of all time.
Peanut wrote seventy-three songs for George Jones including some of his best-loved number one hits. Charlene, Peanut’s wife and partner, is a prolific songwriter in her own right, and she had a personal relationship with Jones that spanned decades, and she remains today a revered and beloved friend of all the Jones children.