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37 Years Ago: George Jones’ ‘He Stopped Loving Her Today’ Hits No. 1

George Jones He Stopped Loving Her Today No 1
Michael Buckner, Getty Images

Thirty-seven years ago today, on July 5, 1980, George Jones saw one of his biggest hits land at the top of the charts. It was on that date that “He Stopped Loving Her Today,” from Jones’ then-upcoming I Am What I Am album, became a No. 1 hit.

The touching song, written by Bobby Braddock and Curly Putman, is about a man who loves a woman for years, until his death. With lyrics such as, “He stopped loving her today / They placed a wreath upon his door / And soon they’ll carry him away / He stopped loving her today,” the song became one of the most well-known singles of Jones’ career.

“He Stopped Loving Her Today” came at a pivotal time for Jones: The country legend recorded the song while still struggling with alcoholism, which was affecting his career. At the time, he didn’t believe it was a hit.

“I looked Billy square in the eye and said, ‘Nobody will buy that morbid son of a bitch,'” Jones recalled in his autobiography, I Lived to Tell It All. But the Opry member quickly changed his mind.

“To put it simply, I was back on top,” Jones wrote. “Just that quickly. I don’t want to belabor this comparison, but a four-decade career was salvaged by a three-minute song.”

“He Stopped Loving Her Today” stayed in the top spot for 18 weeks; it was Jones’ first No. 1 hit in six years.

Still, Jones struggled with his addictions and often appeared onstage to accept the numerous awards that the song earned — including a Grammy Award and two trophies each from the ACM Awards and CMA Awards — drunk. But in 1983, Jones married Nancy Sepulvado, which started him on his path to sobriety.

Jones included “He Stopped Loving Her Today” on several of his compilation albums, including Anniversary — 10 Years of Hits in 1982, Super Hits in 1987, 16 Biggest Hits in 1998 and 50 Years of Hits in 2004. Alan Jackson sang “He Stopped Loving Her Today” at Jones’ funeral, on May 2, 2013.

“He Stopped Loving Her Today” is available for download on iTunes.

Country’s Greatest Love Stories: George + Nancy Jones

NEXT: Top 10 George Jones Songs

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