At age 9, George Jones received his first guitar.  It was a Gene Autry Cowboy Guitar, right from “The Melody Ranch”.  George taught himself how to play and practiced until he was able to roam the streets of Beaumont, TX earning tips.  It was tough times during “The Great Depression” and his Dad even made him play on the streets to earn money.  At 11 years old he was producing money by playing his guitar.  At 16, he left home and was on his own, earning a living by playing guitar.
The Discovery of George Jones’ First Guitar  
“I Lived To Tell It All” Excerpts from George Jones Autobiography: “I went to the seventh grade twice before my folks finally let me quit school for two reasons. First, I had no interest in anything that school had to offer. Second, Mama and Daddy got tired of me playing hooky. Helen never told on me, but she knew I missed school in spells, some as long as a month. I'd sneak away and go into Beaumont, where I walked the streets barefooted with my little guitar, singing and dreaming with a mind that no school could hold. Without telephones no one could call my folks to ask why I wasn't in class I was interested in music as far back as I can remember. Helen said I used to try to play an old guitar with a missing string when I was three by laying it horizontally across my lap. And I remember the battery-operated radio we had that Mama and Daddy played on Saturday nights during the Grand Ole Opry from faraway Nashville, Tennessee. In our small house my sisters had to sleep three or four to the bed. But when I was small I slept between Mama and Daddy. The purr of the radio static and the lateness of the hour were too much for a sleepy little boy. I often fell asleep to the music that I strained to hear across the miles. "But you wake me up if Bill Monroe or Roy Acuff come on," I told Mama. My dad saw my enthusiasm for music and one day surprised me by saying I could go with Mama and him on their weekly trip from Kountze to Beaumont. I lived my young life in houses near Saratoga and Kountze and then inside the Maritime project house in Beaumont. We rode the Doodle Bug, the train that ran directly to Beaumont and made nothing but milk stops. We got off and went straight to the Jefferson Music Company. I suspected nothing. I must have thought I was in musicians' heaven. Guitars hung from the ceiling, and my mouth was wide as I gaped at more instruments than I knew existed. I'm sure I was spellbound. My mood was interrupted when Daddy talked to the salesman. Over the counter the man handed Daddy a shiny Gene Autry guitar with a horse and lariat on the front. I can see its glow to this day. Then Daddy handed it to me. I can't count the number of Martin D-45s and other expensive guitars I've owned in my life. But none ever meant any more to me than that little ole Gene Autry. I took it home, and it hardly ever left my hands. I slept with it a time or two. I began to play note by note and could play melodies long before I learned how to make a chord. It soon paid off for me. I was eleven when I first sang for pay, and it happened by accident. I rode a bus from Kountze to Beaumont on a Sunday morning. I could always ride for free if I had my guitar and sang the driver and passengers a tune. Barefooted and wearing my usual bib overalls with one leg rolled up to the knee, I carried that Gene Autry guitar to a penny arcade on Pearl Street. A shoeshine stand sat in front of the arcade. I got on it and began to play and sing. People were beginning to get out of church, and soon a half dozen gathered in front of me. Then ten, twelve, fifteen, and maybe as many as twenty came and went. I just kept singing and playing. Somebody threw a nickel, and I was astonished. I didn't know whether to pick it up or keep playing and try to keep the coins coming. So I played on. The change continued to fly, and someone placed a cup near my feet. I would have brought one from home if I'd had any idea people were going to pay me. I continued singing and continued to hear coins hitting the side of the cup. That was the true music to my ears. Two hours later, after I had sung every song I knew two or three times, I counted my funds. I had more than twenty-four dollars! That was more money than I had ever seen, and my young mind actually thought it was all of the money in the world. My family could have eaten for a week or more on that much money in 1942. But they never saw it. I was walking on air when I stepped inside the arcade. I'm not sure I left with a cent. That was my first time to earn money for singing and my first time to blow it afterward. It started what almost became a lifetime trend.” Clifford Rolwing is now working with the Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville,TN to display this historic guitar.  "I believe that it is of such great value that everyone should have the opportunity to view this piece of history before "The King" has past.  My intentions are to have it displayed in the Country Music Hall of Fame along with other significant George Jones Memorabilia.  I am sure at some time in the future a collector who values this more will want to own this significant Historic Guitar but for now Everybody should enjoy it at the Country Music Hall of Fame." The Country Music Hall of Fame located at 222 5th Avenue South  Nashville, TN 3720 http://countrymusichalloffame.org/ The Country Music Hall of Fame® and Museum has been the home of America's music since 1967. In keeping with the cultural significance of the music and the heroic achievements of those who form its membership, the Museum opened in a $37 million landmark, new building in May 2001. Located on the west bank of the Cumberland River, just a few steps from the historic Ryman Auditorium and the honky-tonks of Lower Broadway, the monumental edifice, a visceral experience for approaching visitors, invigorates the skyline in downtown Nashville's entertainment district.    
My “Gene Autry Cowboy Guitar”
Photos courtesy of Crockette’s Images, Missouri’s Premier Corporate & Event Photographer.
George signed: George Jones Beaumont Texas  11
George Jones Very First Known Signature
George Jones Was as Good as Sinatra He imitated Hank Williams’s sound and feared he would meet the same early death.
By Ryan Cole April 8, 2016 2:53 p.m. ET A roll call of great American voices usually features Frank Sinatra, Louis Armstrong, Billie Holiday and Bing Crosby. It should also include George Jones (1931-2013). Don’t believe it? Listen to “The Window Up Above” or “She Thinks I Still Care.” Or read Rich Kienzle’s “The Grand Tour.” This unflinching new biography explains the significance of Jones’s music while vividly capturing his wild and woolly life. Much to Mr. Kienzle’s credit, it accomplishes this second task without romancing the musician’s destructive behavior. The Grand Tour By Rich Kienzle Dey Street, 279 pages, $27.99  A long-time chronicler of country music who has elevated liner notes to a high art in numerous reissue albums, Mr. Kienzle is on sure footing here and his writing is not dissimilar from his subject’s singing: straightforward and unpretentious. The author traces Jones’s Texas origins into the forested southeastern corner of the Lone Star State known as the Big Thicket. Jones grew up here in a hardscrabble home, the son of an abusive alcoholic father and a loving, devoutly Christian mother. This combination, in Mr. Kienzle’s telling, created the singer’s Jekyll and Hyde character, at times sweet and humble, at others selfish and violent. Initially he sang and strummed guitar on the streets or at home when his daddy drunkenly demanded it. After running away at 16, Jones held a string of radio jobs and had an uneasy stint in the Marines. Then he fell under the guidance of Texas entrepreneur Pappy Daily. The young Jones was smitten by the sounds of Roy Acuff and Bill Monroe, but spent the early years of his career imitating Hank Williams and the later part of it fearing he would, like the alcoholic Alabama songsmith, meet a premature end: Jones’s passion for music was matched by his affection for the bottle. His initial records for the Starday label were derivative of Williams and syllable-stretching honky tonker Lefty Frizzell. Moving to Mercury Records in 1957, Jones developed his signature style, pushing words through his teeth, straining out swooping notes that bent with emotion. He sang, in the words of friend and fellow country artist, Frankie Miller, “like a damn mockingbird.” Success, starting with the chart-topping rockabilly ode to moonshine “White Lightning,” released when he was 27 years old, followed. Next came a blur of booze, bar fights, missed gigs, mismanaged finances, turbulent marriages (there were four) and intoxicated brushes with the law. The author, his encyclopedic knowledge of the genre on full display, often tells the story through Jones’s peers. These include Patsy Cline, the tough Virginian vocalist who held her own with Jones backstage; Johnny Paycheck, the diminutive Ohio-born band mate who could match him for hell-raising and, arguably, talent; and Buck Owens, the baron of California country whose professionalism contrasted with Jones’s bedlam. The two, who often shared billings, bickered over who would open. One night Owens prevailed and Jones took the stage first, played every hit from his rival’s repertoire and then strutted backstage and told the furious Owens “you’re on!” Not everything here is so amusing. By middle age Jones was not only an alcoholic, but also a cocaine addict. Producers, band mates and spouses often feared him. “When he started doin’ that cocaine, he went down the drain,” remembered pianist Hargus “Pig” Robbins. Amidst the chaos, Jones joined Epic Records in the early 1970s and teamed with Billy Sherrill, who matched his gritty voice with lush production. Together they made great music, including the gut- wrenching “He Stopped Loving Her Today” with its unforgettable opening line: “He said I’ll love you till I die.” By this time Jones’s substance abuse reached a crescendo. Many in Nashville kept a deathwatch. And here is where “The Grand Tour” takes a heartening turn. In 1981 Jones fell in love with Nancy Sepulvado, a strong-willed widow who pulled him back from the brink and towards sobriety, restoring his reputation in the process. Mr. Kienzle’s upbeat telling of these last decades of Jones’s life dovetails into a less cheerful point about the current state of country music. A cleaned-up Jones continued to perform until his death in 2013, but the hits trailed off. And though keepers-of- the-flame such as Alan Jackson and Randy Travis revered him, an ageing Jones, like many of the grand old men and women of country music, was a causality of Nashville’s obsession with youth. For all of his gifts, Jones never felt worthy of his success. One of his sweetest records, “What Am I Worth” was an early expression of these doubts. Later he blanched before playing venues in Vegas or New York, singing on the same stages as Sinatra or Elvis Presley. I glimpsed this after meeting and fumblingly expressing my admiration for him in 2003. The singer, unassuming and shy, seemed almost surprised by the praise. Both the music and “The Grand Tour” make it clear those doubts were entirely misplaced. —Mr. Cole is an historian and former aide to Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels. http://www.wsj.com/articles/george-jones-was-as-good-as-sinatra- 1460141584
At age 9, George Jones received his first guitar.  It was a Gene Autry Cowboy Guitar, right from “The Melody Ranch”.  George taught himself how to play and practiced until he was able to roam the streets of Beaumont, TX earning tips.  It was tough times during “The Great Depression” and his Dad even made him play on the streets to earn money.  At 11 years old he was producing money by playing his guitar.  At 16, he left home and was on his own, earning a living by playing guitar.
The Discovery of George Jones’ First Guitar  
My “Gene Autry Cowboy Guitar”
Photos courtesy of Crockette’s Images, Missouri’s Premier Corporate & Event Photographer.
George signed: George Jones Beaumont Texas  11
George Jones Very First Known Signature
“I Lived To Tell It All” Excerpts from George Jones Autobiography: “I went to the seventh grade twice before my folks finally let me quit school for two reasons. First, I had no interest in anything that school had to offer. Second, Mama and Daddy got tired of me playing hooky. Helen never told on me, but she knew I missed school in spells, some as long as a month. I'd sneak away and go into Beaumont, where I walked the streets barefooted with my little guitar, singing and dreaming with a mind that no school could hold. Without telephones no one could call my folks to ask why I wasn't in class I was interested in music as far back as I can remember. Helen said I used to try to play an old guitar with a missing string when I was three by laying it horizontally across my lap. And I remember the battery-operated radio we had that Mama and Daddy played on Saturday nights during the Grand Ole Opry from faraway Nashville, Tennessee. In our small house my sisters had to sleep three or four to the bed. But when I was small I slept between Mama and Daddy. The purr of the radio static and the lateness of the hour were too much for a sleepy little boy. I often fell asleep to the music that I strained to hear across the miles. "But you wake me up if Bill Monroe or Roy Acuff come on," I told Mama. My dad saw my enthusiasm for music and one day surprised me by saying I could go with Mama and him on their weekly trip from Kountze to Beaumont. I lived my young life in houses near Saratoga and Kountze and then inside the Maritime project house in Beaumont. We rode the Doodle Bug, the train that ran directly to Beaumont and made nothing but milk stops. We got off and went straight to the Jefferson Music Company. I suspected nothing. I must have thought I was in musicians' heaven. Guitars hung from the ceiling, and my mouth was wide as I gaped at more instruments than I knew existed. I'm sure I was spellbound. My mood was interrupted when Daddy talked to the salesman. Over the counter the man handed Daddy a shiny Gene Autry guitar with a horse and lariat on the front. I can see its glow to this day. Then Daddy handed it to me. I can't count the number of Martin D-45s and other expensive guitars I've owned in my life. But none ever meant any more to me than that little ole Gene Autry. I took it home, and it hardly ever left my hands. I slept with it a time or two. I began to play note by note and could play melodies long before I learned how to make a chord. It soon paid off for me. I was eleven when I first sang for pay, and it happened by accident. I rode a bus from Kountze to Beaumont on a Sunday morning. I could always ride for free if I had my guitar and sang the driver and passengers a tune. Barefooted and wearing my usual bib overalls with one leg rolled up to the knee, I carried that Gene Autry guitar to a penny arcade on Pearl Street. A shoeshine stand sat in front of the arcade. I got on it and began to play and sing. People were beginning to get out of church, and soon a half dozen gathered in front of me. Then ten, twelve, fifteen, and maybe as many as twenty came and went. I just kept singing and playing. Somebody threw a nickel, and I was astonished. I didn't know whether to pick it up or keep playing and try to keep the coins coming. So I played on. The change continued to fly, and someone placed a cup near my feet. I would have brought one from home if I'd had any idea people were going to pay me. I continued singing and continued to hear coins hitting the side of the cup. That was the true music to my ears. Two hours later, after I had sung every song I knew two or three times, I counted my funds. I had more than twenty-four dollars! That was more money than I had ever seen, and my young mind actually thought it was all of the money in the world. My family could have eaten for a week or more on that much money in 1942. But they never saw it. I was walking on air when I stepped inside the arcade. I'm not sure I left with a cent. That was my first time to earn money for singing and my first time to blow it afterward. It started what almost became a lifetime trend.” Clifford Rolwing is now working with the Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville,TN to display this historic guitar.  "I believe that it is of such great value that everyone should have the opportunity to view this piece of history before "The King" has past.  My intentions are to have it displayed in the Country Music Hall of Fame along with other significant George Jones Memorabilia.  I am sure at some time in the future a collector who values this more will want to own this significant Historic Guitar but for now Everybody should enjoy it at the Country Music Hall of Fame." The Country Music Hall of Fame located at 222 5th Avenue South  Nashville, TN 37203 http://countrymusichalloffame.org/ The Country Music Hall of Fame® and Museum has been the home of America's music since 1967. In keeping with the cultural significance of the music and the heroic achievements of those who form its membership, the Museum opened in a $37 million landmark, new building in May 2001. Located on the west bank of the Cumberland River, just a few steps from the historic Ryman Auditorium and the honky-tonks of Lower Broadway, the monumental edifice, a visceral experience for approaching visitors, invigorates the skyline in downtown Nashville's entertainment district.    
George Jones Was as Good as Sinatra He imitated Hank Williams’s sound and feared he would meet the same early death.
By Ryan Cole April 8, 2016 2:53 p.m. ET 3 COMMENTS A roll call of great American voices usually features Frank Sinatra, Louis Armstrong, Billie Holiday and Bing Crosby. It should also include George Jones (1931-2013). Don’t believe it? Listen to “The Window Up Above” or “She Thinks I Still Care.” Or read Rich Kienzle’s “The Grand Tour.” This unflinching new biography explains the significance of Jones’s music while vividly capturing his wild and woolly life. Much to Mr. Kienzle’s credit, it accomplishes this second task without romancing the musician’s destructive behavior. The Grand Tour By Rich Kienzle Dey Street, 279 pages, $27.99  A long-time chronicler of country music who has elevated liner notes to a high art in numerous reissue albums, Mr. Kienzle is on sure footing here and his writing is not dissimilar from his subject’s singing: straightforward and unpretentious. The author traces Jones’s Texas origins into the forested southeastern corner of the Lone Star State known as the Big Thicket. Jones grew up here in a hardscrabble home, the son of an abusive alcoholic father and a loving, devoutly Christian mother. This combination, in Mr. Kienzle’s telling, created the singer’s Jekyll and Hyde character, at times sweet and humble, at others selfish and violent. Initially he sang and strummed guitar on the streets or at home when his daddy drunkenly demanded it. After running away at 16, Jones held a string of radio jobs and had an uneasy stint in the Marines. Then he fell under the guidance of Texas entrepreneur Pappy Daily. The young Jones was smitten by the sounds of Roy Acuff and Bill Monroe, but spent the early years of his career imitating Hank Williams and the later part of it fearing he would, like the alcoholic Alabama songsmith, meet a premature end: Jones’s passion for music was matched by his affection for the bottle. His initial records for the Starday label were derivative of Williams and syllable-stretching honky tonker Lefty Frizzell. Moving to Mercury Records in 1957, Jones developed his signature style, pushing words through his teeth, straining out swooping notes that bent with emotion. He sang, in the words of friend and fellow country artist, Frankie Miller, “like a damn mockingbird.” Success, starting with the chart-topping rockabilly ode to moonshine “White Lightning,” released when he was 27 years old, followed. Next came a blur of booze, bar fights, missed gigs, mismanaged finances, turbulent marriages (there were four) and intoxicated brushes with the law. The author, his encyclopedic knowledge of the genre on full display, often tells the story through Jones’s peers. These include Patsy Cline, the tough Virginian vocalist who held her own with Jones backstage; Johnny Paycheck, the diminutive Ohio-born band mate who could match him for hell-raising and, arguably, talent; and Buck Owens, the baron of California country whose professionalism contrasted with Jones’s bedlam. The two, who often shared billings, bickered over who would open. One night Owens prevailed and Jones took the stage first, played every hit from his rival’s repertoire and then strutted backstage and told the furious Owens “you’re on!” Not everything here is so amusing. By middle age Jones was not only an alcoholic, but also a cocaine addict. Producers, band mates and spouses often feared him. “When he started doin’ that cocaine, he went down the drain,” remembered pianist Hargus “Pig” Robbins. Amidst the chaos, Jones joined Epic Records in the early 1970s and teamed with Billy Sherrill, who matched his gritty voice with lush production. Together they made great music, including the gut- wrenching “He Stopped Loving Her Today” with its unforgettable opening line: “He said I’ll love you till I die.” By this time Jones’s substance abuse reached a crescendo. Many in Nashville kept a deathwatch. And here is where “The Grand Tour” takes a heartening turn. In 1981 Jones fell in love with Nancy Sepulvado, a strong-willed widow who pulled him back from the brink and towards sobriety, restoring his reputation in the process. Mr. Kienzle’s upbeat telling of these last decades of Jones’s life dovetails into a less cheerful point about the current state of country music. A cleaned-up Jones continued to perform until his death in 2013, but the hits trailed off. And though keepers-of-the-flame such as Alan Jackson and Randy Travis revered him, an ageing Jones, like many of the grand old men and women of country music, was a causality of Nashville’s obsession with youth. For all of his gifts, Jones never felt worthy of his success. One of his sweetest records, “What Am I Worth” was an early expression of these doubts. Later he blanched before playing venues in Vegas or New York, singing on the same stages as Sinatra or Elvis Presley. I glimpsed this after meeting and fumblingly expressing my admiration for him in 2003. The singer, unassuming and shy, seemed almost surprised by the praise. Both the music and “The Grand Tour” make it clear those doubts were entirely misplaced. —Mr. Cole is an historian and former aide to Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels. http://www.wsj.com/articles/george-jones-was-as-good-as-sinatra- 1460141584
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