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When it comes to classic country music, George Jones is generally known as one of the masters. But his drinking and tumultuous marriages might be a close second claim to fame.

Read on to learn how his actions after one divorce earned him time in jail and what supposedly ended his marriage to a fellow country icon. Plus, what did he say was different about his final marriage that made it last?

George Jones had a tumultuous marriage with Tammy Wynette, pictured performing together c. 1970
Tammy Wynette and George Jones | Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

George Jones’ first tumultuous marriage ended badly and landed him in jail

At 18, Jones wed his first wife, Dorothy Bonvillion, in 1950. He worked odd jobs for low pay to try and support the two of them, but he also liked to frequent bars. She left their marriage in 1951 and claimed he was addicted to drinking (per Texas Monthly.)

Bonvillion was six months pregnant with a daughter, Susan, when she filed for divorce. She told a judge Jones spent too much time at the local drinking establishments and had a violent temper, and her request to terminate the marriage was granted.

Furthermore, Jones was ordered to pay his first wife weekly support. But he failed to make all his payments and was in jail twice for it. He joined the Marines to avoid going back a third time.

George Jones’ second tumultuous marriage ended when he met his third wife

Upon returning to civilian life, Jones married his second wife, Shirley Ann Corley, in 1954. They had two sons and managed to make their union last for more than a decade, but his drinking was again a problem.

That relationship ended for good when he met Tammy Wynette. She was also married, but the two country music sensations had difficulty denying their feelings for each other. In 1968, Jones and Corley divorced, and Wynette soon left her second husband.

Jones married the “First Lady of Country” in 1969, and they became “Mr. and Mrs. Country Music” — at least according to a tour bus they once shared.

They had one daughter, but they were finished by 1975 when Wynette was romantically linked to Burt Reynolds. She later claimed she left after Jones drunkenly chased her through their home with a loaded rifle, which he denied.

George Jones’ last marriage helped him stay sober


Tammy Wynette ‘Never Could Change’ George Jones but Still Loved Him When She Left Him

Jones’ fourth marriage in 1983 to Nancy Sepulvado was his last. He said she was a big part of the reason he was able to get sober and stay sober later in his life.

“I’m here to testify that it changed one man. Friends, family, doctors, therapists and ministers had tried to save me, but to no avail. But finally the power of love from one woman, Nancy Jones, made the difference,” he said (per The Boot.)

The couple was still married when Jones died in 2013, and she later revealed his final words, which sounded like a conversation with God. As reported by Taste of Country, she heard him say, “Well, hello there. My name is George Jones. I’ve been looking for you.”

How to get help: In the U.S., contact the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration helpline at 1-800-662-4357.