NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - Garth Brooks calls him "the greatest voice ever to grace country music." Merle Haggard agrees. And Dolly Parton says her "heart is absolutely broken" on hearing the news of the death of George Jones. She calls Jones her "all-time favorite singer."
Tributes are pouring in for Jones, the country music superstar who died today in Nashville at the age of 81, after a year of poor health.
Songwriter Bobby Braddock, who provided Jones with 29 songs over the decades, says, "No one in country music has influenced so many other artists."
Jones did so with a rich, deep and powerful voice. It helped him achieve number-one songs in each of five decades, the 1950s to the 1990s.
He was both a beloved and a sometimes notorious figure in Nashville, where his personal problems were just as legendary as his songs. He had substance abuse problems, and multiple divorces. There were brawls, accidents and close encounters with death -- including bypass surgery and a tour bus crash that he avoided only by deciding at the last moment to take a plane.
He would also become known for failing to appear for concerts -- leaving him with the nickname "No Show Jones."
In his career of more than 50 years, he evolved from a young honky-tonker to an elder statesman, recording more than 50 albums. Along the way, Jones became both a champion and symbol of traditional country music.
(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)