Country Star George Jones Looked to God for Sobriety: ‘Changed’
By Movieguide® Contributor
In her memoir “Playin’ Possum: My Memories of George Jones,” Nancy Jones recalls the inspiring journey that her husband, country star George Jones, took to find freedom from drugs and alcohol.
In 1999, the musician got in a car accident that should have ended his life. Jones was on the phone with his stepdaughter when he lost control of his vehicle and slammed head-on into a concrete bridge. He hadn’t been wearing a seatbelt and was flung under the steering wheel and the dashboard of the car.
“They had to get him out with the jaws of life,” Nancy Jones told Fox News Digital. “He died twice in the helicopter on the way to the hospital. Oh, that was awful. I remember the doctor sat me down and said, ‘He’s not going to make it.’”
Jones, however, pulled through and vowed to change his life after being given a second chance.
“If you let me get over this, I’ll never drink again. I’ll never smoke again, and I will be the perfect husband,” George told God as he recovered.
“My whole life has been turned around,” he said shortly after the accident. “I quit drinking and smoking, and I have a different outlook on life. That wreck put the fear of God in me. I just got a little closer to the good Lord, and I’m enjoying life.”
“That was the last time George ever had a cigarette or a drink,” Nancy explained. “And he was the perfect husband. He was changed.”
While Jones was able to make this incredible change after his accident, his previous attempts at sobriety did not go as smoothly.
Nancy shared that he would quit drinking certain kinds of alcohol but continued consuming others.
“He would have those itty-bitty bottles of vodka everywhere—his boots, his coat pocket, all over the closet, in his car,” she continued. “It was a journey just to find them all…And when fans visited him, they would bring more alcohol to him.”
To make matters worse, alcohol caused George to abuse his family.
“George was not a friendly drunk,” Nancy explained. “He was a mean drunk…It just changed him. But those were demons, not George Jones. Even when George would be so bad, he had a different voice. It was a very scary, deep voice. It was not like him talking. I had to learn really fast… And it hurt. Lord knows I cried a lot writing this book. I was not sitting back and eating chocolates. When he started drinking and doing the drugs together, things turned south in a hurry.”
“I was afraid every day,” she added. “I was afraid for my life, my daughter’s life and afraid for George’s life.”
Yet, Nancy saw goodness in George and was unwilling to let him face his demons alone.
“Could I have walked away? Sure, many times,” she said. “But I knew he wanted to get well, and he couldn’t do it alone. You’ve got to have somebody who believes in you no matter how hard it is, and still stand beside him. And that’s what I did. You can’t give up.”
Nancy hopes that her memoir can inspire those going through a similar situation.
“I just wanted the truth out there,” she explained. “It’s the truth of George Jones and my life with him… And I didn’t want to sugarcoat anything. He had a lot of demons and he fought them so hard, but they were winning… And God blessed him with another chance.”
After the car accident, George became a strong Christian, speaking openly about his past addiction and encouraging others to give up drinking and drugs.
“He became a bit of a preacher,” Nancy said. “He would talk to people about how he turned his life around and encouraged them to quit drinking and smoking. He would say, ‘If I could do it, you can too…’ That spiritual side of George is my favorite memory of him.”
“I want people to remember who George was, what he went through and how he overcame it all,” she added. “I’m trying my best, even though it hurts at times to tell the truth. But it was time.”
George said of his faith before his death in 2013, “It has lifted my depression to the point where I just take every day as it comes. For me, that’s what Christianity did. It gave me a purpose in life.”