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Story Behind George Jones’ Classic ‘He Stopped Loving Her Today’

By January 26, 2010

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I thought it would be fun every once in a while if I wrote about the stories behind some of country's all-time classic songs. Every song has a story behind it, and I thought I'd start with one of the biggest songs in country music history.

Many consider George Jones' classic, "He Stopped Loving Her Today," one of the greatest country songs of all time. It's certainly one of the saddest songs ever recorded. Co-written by Bobby Braddock and Curly Putnam, "He Stopped Loving Her Today" was originally recorded by Johnny Russell, but his label, Mercury Records, decided not to release it as a single.

The song eventually made its way to legendary producer, Billy Sherrill, who liked it but insisted that another verse be added, this one showing the woman in the song returning to the dead man's funeral. Initially, the Possum didn't want to record it. He thought it was just too morbid and that radio would never pick it up.

Click here to watch George Jones perform "He Stopped Loving Her Today."

Sherrill eventually convinced Jones to record it, and they went into the studio. Even after the session and hearing the song on playback, Jones insisted that no one would want the song because it was just too sad and morbid. Sherrill disagreed and bet the Possum $100 it would be a hit.

Jones took that bet, and he happily paid Sherrill shortly after "He Stopped Loving Her Today" climbed to No. 1 in early July of 1980. It would go on to win Single of the Year awards from the Country Music Association and the Academy of Country Music. Jones also earned a Grammy for Best Male Country Vocal Performance.

Photo © Bandit Records


January 26, 2010 at 2:38 pm
(1) murphysmom says:

Classic! Beautiful song, great singer, great classic country backup band.

February 1, 2010 at 6:30 pm
(2) Charlie Frederick says:

Just goes to show that even a great artist like George Jones sometimes does not know a hit when given to him. There are lots of these kind of stories around. If we all knew what a “hit” was in advance…we would only have hits. Many great songs and artists have never been heard or seen.

February 1, 2010 at 7:09 pm
(3) DiAnna says:

I have always loved this song-my Daddy used to sing it & play his guitar. It however does not apply to myselt-I am engaged to the love of my life, we were 1st engaged when I was 23 & we left the North & moved far South to a beautiful island and had yrs of love and joy I had to come back N my Dad had cancer-lost contact-then my Mom went w/God cancer again & my love called we met & it wuz like we never parted we were engaged again when I wuz 43 then he wuz killed in June-but I will never stop loving him we will be together again & I will still be wearing his ring-then we will marry

February 2, 2010 at 2:49 am
(4) karen staples says:

i so love this song, i play it a lot , its a beautiful song

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