“The Possum,” age 81, passed away April 26, 2013, at Vanderbilt University Medical Center after being hospitalized for a high fever and irregular blood pressure. Shortly following the death of Jones, Jackson shared with TMZ his heartbreak surrounding the passing of his dear friend.
“Well, heaven better get ready for some great country music,” he said according to TMZ. “While George was known for his wild and crazy days, I’ve known him for 25 years as a friend. He had grown into a real good man. Of course, he will always be the greatest singer and interpreter of real country music – there’ll never be another.”
He and Jackson were longtime friends, making each other’s acquaintance a quarter of a century prior when Jackson made a guest appearance on Jones’ The Bradley Barn Sessions. Jackson solidified their friendship at the 1999 CMA Awards when he interrupted his own performance to sing Jones’ “Choices,” which the academy hadn’t allowed The Possum to perform.
Jackson’s delivery of “He Stopped Loving Her Today” was nothing shy of perfection, the singer paying homage to Jones through a performance highly reminiscent of the icon’s vocals. The country singer closed out the funeral service in Nashville, Tennessee on May 2, 2013, with his performance of the emotionally wrenching song, noticeably bringing a tear to the eyes of everyone in the audience, including Jackson himself.
You can watch Jackson’s performance of “He Stopped Loving Her Today” in the video below.