On this day in 1980, George Jones released his song “He Stopped Loving Her Today.”
The wistful track appeared on Jones’ album I Am What I Am. The lead single from I Am What I Am, “He Stopped Loving Her Today” reached number one on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs and helped Jones score a Grammy (Best Male Vocal Country Performance, 1980), two ACM awards (Single of the Year and Song of the Year) and two CMA awards (Song of the Year in 1980 and 1981).
The song has also been lauded as among the greatest songs in country music. Both the Tennessean and Rolling Stone included the track in their lists of the 100 greatest country songs of all time, with Rolling Stone ranking the song at number four.
The track was written by Bobby Braddock and Curly Putnam and was produced by Billy Sherrill at a tumultuous time in Jones’ career. Jones was battling drinking and drug problems at the time he recorded the song and experienced difficulty in recording it because he kept slurring his words. He also allegedly hated the song because of its “morbid” nature.
And although Jones didn’t write the song himself, it’s been said that the song “mirrors” his relationship with his ex-wife and fellow country singer Tammy Wynette.
“He said “I’ll love you till I die,” / She told him “You’ll forget in time” / As the years went slowly by, / She still preyed upon his mind,” Jones sings on the song’s first verse.
“He stopped loving her today / They placed a wreath upon his door / And soon they’ll carry him away / He stopped loving her today,” he follows up on the chorus.
The song continues to carry on a life of its own in country music. It’s been covered by a variety of modern country artists, including LeAnn Rimes, Josh Turner, and Craig Campbell.
Alan Jackson also covered the song at Jones’ funeral back in 2013.