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Country Music Legend George Jones Dead At 81

George Jones (Photo by Toby Canham/Getty Images)

George Jones (Photo by Toby Canham/Getty Images)

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (CBSNewYork/AP) –¬†George Jones, the peerless, hard-living country singer who recorded dozens of hits about good times and regrets and peaked with the heartbreaking classic “He Stopped Loving Her Today,” has died. He was 81.

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Jones died Friday at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville after being hospitalized with fever and irregular blood pressure, publicist Kirt Webster said.

Known for his clenched, precise baritone, Jones had No. 1 songs in five separate decades, 1950s to 1990s, and was idolized not just by fellow country singers, but by Frank Sinatra, Pete Townshend, Elvis Costello, James Taylor and countless others.

In a career that lasted more than 50 years, “Possum” recorded more than 150 albums and became the champion and symbol of traditional country music, a well-lined link to his hero, Hank Williams.

His failure to appear for concerts left him with the nickname “No Show Jones,” and he later recorded a song by that name and often opened his shows by singing it. His wild life was revealed in song and in his handsome, troubled face, with its dark, deep-set eyes and dimpled chin.

Jones won Grammy awards in 1981 for “He Stopped Loving Her Today” and in 1999 for “Choices.” He was elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1992 and in 2008 was among the artists honored in Washington at the Kennedy Center.

Jones continued to make appearances and put out records, though his hit records declined.

In 1983, Jones married his fourth and final wife, Nancy Sepulveda, whom he credited with stablizing his private life. He had four children, one with first wife Dorothy Bonvillion, two with second wife Shirley Ann Corley and one with Wynette.

His daughter with Wynette, Georgette Jones, became a country singer and even played her mother in the 2008 TV series “Sordid Lives.”

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