Album:The Essential George Jones: The Spirit Of Country
When one thinks of George Jones, one thinks of his duets with Tammy Wynette and his 70s hits on Epic Records. White Lightning was Jones' very first number one country hit in 1959 and his music from that era is much different from the later music that most fans are familiar with. Jones first recorded with producer Pappy Daily in 1954 and worked with him at several labels until he signed with Epic in the early 70s. Jones started out with Starday Records and moved to Mercury with Daily in 1957. Jones toured on The Louisiana Hayride with Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash. Jones was urged to try rockabilly influenced by Presley's stardom. But he didn't like doing it and preferred a honky tonk style. So the funny thing about White Lightning is it certainly sounds like rockabilly. It was Jones first number one country hit in 1959 and it's a novelty song and Jones recorded several novelty songs in the early 60s like The Race Is On. But Jones didn't like rock and roll though he could have been a rock and roll star. White Lightning was written by JP Richardson AKA The Big Bopper. He and Jones were very good friends. White Lightning was recorded a week after Richardson died in the tragic plane crash with Richie Valens and Buddy Holly. Jones says he was very drunk at the recording session and recorded 80 takes before they got one they could use. Bassist Buddy Killen was so upset he threatened to kill Jones. That's ironic when you consider what the song is about. Jones' other number one country hits from that era were Tender Years in 1961 and She Thinks I Still Care in 1962. Then Jones and Daily moved to United Artists and later Musicor. This Epic Legacy 2CD comp is expensive but it includes not only Jones' Epic recordings but his Starday, Mercury, UA and Musicor recordings. A similar comp called The Essential George Jones does not include his Musicor recordings. He also re-recorded White Lightning so this comp has the original version. George Jones became a country music legend until his death on Apr. 26, 2013 at age 81. But you don't want to overlook his early hits. Here's George Jones performing White Lighning 1959.