Music

Buck Owens Once Angered George Jones Into Playing a Full Set of Owens' Songs

Country Western singer George Jones appears onstage in Nashville, Tenn., in this May 7, 1992 photograph. (AP Photo)

Don't sleep on The Justin Moore Podcast as a source of outrageous stories about country legends. As reported by Whiskey Riff, LoCash's recent chat with Moore taught listeners something new about the confidence (and stubbornness) of George Jones.

Back when Jones was cutting his teeth as an opening act, he played a string of shows with Buck Owens and the Buckaroos. No dates are given for this tour, but chances are, Jones performed "White Lightning" and other early hits before Owens and his band (led by guitarist and harmony vocalist Don Rich) floored audiences with their most recent Capitol Records sides.

Surely, just about any future country music or rockabilly legend would've cherished a support slot for progenitors of the Bakersfield Sound, even if our theoretical curtain-jerkers knew they were good enough to headline any bill.

The Possum saw no need to leave well enough alone and enjoy the ride. Every night, Jones asked Owens for a turn as headliner. The equally self-assured leader of the Buckaroos always shot down Jones' suggestion.

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Finally, Jones got fed up enough to learn an entire Buck Owens and the Buckaroos set and perform it in a venue where Owens' name was on the marquee. And if that wasn't gutsy enough, LoCash's story implies that Jones pulled a similar stunt when opening for Elvis Presley.

Owens didn't stay mad forever. He appears on Jones' 1991 duets album Friends in High Places for a cover of one of Owens' biggest hits, "Love's Gonna Live Here." All of those years later, Jones' success singing with Tammy Wynette and as the solo artist behind "He Stopped Loving Her Today" had long established him as an equal to Owens, despite the added notoriety that'd come with all of Owens' trips to Nashville to record blocks of Hee Haw episodes.

During a separate episode of The Justin Moore Podcast, Tracy Lawrence shared his own over-the-top tale about one of the most gifted country singers to ever waltz across Texas.

"I learned real quick not to get to close to him because George, if you were walking beside him, especially if you were on right his side, you would be walking along everything fine having a conversation, he would just take his hand and he would backhand you right down the cod and he would say 'take a bow, son'," Lawrence says. "I mean, it double you over right there in hall, man. And he'd just laugh. So you learned to kind of guard yourself when you was close to him because he'd catch you off guard and pop you boy."

No word on whether or not Jones ever smacked Owens "right down the cod."

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Buck Owens Once Angered George Jones Into Playing a Full Set of Owens' Songs