During the final weeks of her life, Tammy Wynette had her ex-husband on her mind.
The country music star passed away in 1998 at age 55 of heart failure. She and George Jones, country music’s first power couple, are the subjects of the Showtime series “George & Tammy,” starring Jessica Chastain and Michael Shannon. The show, which premiered in late 2022 and is now up for four Emmys, aims to pull back the curtain on their tumultuous marriage.
“A couple of weeks before my mom passed away, we had a long heart-to-heart talk,” the couple’s daughter, Georgette Jones, told Fox News Digital. “We spoke about what happened in our lives and regrets. She spoke about my dad and said that of course, he would always be the love of her life. She cared for him very much. She said it was unfortunate that at the time they were married, my dad had a love-hate relationship with Nashville.”
“He loved making music, but he hated the business aspect of Nashville,” the fellow singer-songwriter shared. “My mom just wanted to be in Nashville. She was so happy to finally make it and feel like she was getting established… And my dad was just sick of it. I know that had a large part to do with some of their anxieties and difficulties as a couple. My dad wanted to go away as far from there as possible. And my mom just wanted to keep pushing and go bigger.”
“My mom married two more people after my dad,” Georgette continued. “She was searching for some way to fill her life and make it OK without my dad. And according to her, just a couple of weeks before she passed, she never found anything. Her greatest love would always be my dad. And that’s unfortunate.”
Other issues plagued Nashville’s answer to Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton. They were married from 1969 to 1975.
“Of course, my dad had problems with drinking,” said the 52-year-old. “But my mom also developed medical issues which caused multiple surgeries and then addiction to pain pills. So all of that pulled them apart. So in those conversations my mom and I had, she talked about how maybe if it had been a different time in their lives, if they hadn’t been under the microscope of the media, things would have been different. But even though she still loved him very much and cared for him, it just wasn’t meant to be.”
Jones died in 2013 at age 81. In his lifetime, he struggled with a debilitating addiction to alcohol and cocaine. During the ‘60s and ‘70s, he earned the nickname “No Show Jones” for regularly getting so wasted that he would fail to show up for his concerts or just refuse to perform. The patriarch once admitted to People magazine in 1977, “I drank a little more than I should even though I hated my daddy for drinking.”
Georgette said that one of the “mistakes” her mother admitted to making was not understanding how addiction operates.
“She said there wasn’t a lot of information about addiction back then — it was very much a taboo thing to talk about,” Georgette explained. “You looked down on people with addiction as if this was a moral issue or a discipline problem within themselves. No one looked or talked about addiction like we do now. Today, we realize it’s a medical problem, a psychological problem. It’s something that needs to be addressed throughout your life. But in those days, there was a stigma. No one wanted to address those problems. And for my mom, you don’t question a doctor if you’re given medication for pain. It was difficult for her to [later] understand she had developed a problem. It wasn’t just her taking [pills] for medical reasons anymore.”
“Mom said she would nag my dad, thinking that would change him,” she reflected. “She would make threats about leaving, hoping that maybe if he thought he was going to lose something, not have their family unit together anymore, that would make him want to quit. But she didn’t understand that that’s not really what the problem was.”
“It wasn’t about doing right or wrong,” Georgette continued. “I think she realized many years later that she wished she had known and understood more about addiction to help my dad. She wanted to be with him more than anything, but I think at some point she felt like it was physically and psychologically tearing her apart to stay with him. She felt she needed to be away from it for her and her kids to have a better life. And that was the most painful decision she’s ever made because she desperately wanted all of us to be a family.”
Georgette said that growing up, her parents shielded her from their problems. It was many years later when she was an adult and had children of her own that Georgette learned why she didn’t see her father as much as she would have liked.
“He knew he had a problem, and he was trying to protect me,” said Georgette. “He didn’t want me to see him that way… I later found out from my grandparents that he would stay in my room when I was with them and my mom was traveling, and cry for hours. And when I would come home from school, he would quickly leave because he felt he was in no condition for me to see him. He just didn’t want to upset me… I later realized that my dad loved me so much, and he was so sad to be away from me, but he was trying to protect me from seeing him that way.”
Georgette would hear whispers of her parents’ rocky marriage from classmates. She said Wynette never spoke negatively about her father.
“Whenever I would come home upset and tell my mom, she would say, ‘Don’t listen to what people, TV, or newspapers have to say — no one knows all the truth,’” Georgette recalled. “‘Just ignore those things. The only thing you need to remember is that your dad loves you with all of his heart. I know you love him, too. Your dad is a good man. And whatever he’s working on, it’ll get worked through one day.’”
And there were plenty of happy memories at home, Georgette shared.
“Both of my parents loved to play games,” she chuckled. “We’d play board games or go bowling. Both of them were very childlike. They loved playing and being involved with all the things we kids were doing. When they came home [from performing] they made life so much fun for us. They were really great parents.”
Georgette said she was 27 when she lost her mom. Jones was “immediately” there for her.
“My sister and I had to pick out the casket and flowers,” said Georgette. “It was my dad who went with us to do all those things. I know how difficult that was for him, but he knew I needed him more than I’d ever needed him before in my life… And he was there for me. That was the beginning of us repairing a relationship that needed repairing for a long time. It wasn’t that we didn’t love each other and didn’t want to be with each other, but not seeing each other made it difficult. That was a moment where the healing really began.”
Jones nearly died in 1999 when he was in a car accident, The Seattle Times reported. He was driving while intoxicated. He was on a ventilator for 11 days after the crash. According to the outlet, Jones gave up drinking and smoking upon his recovery.
“He never had another cigarette or another drink,” Georgette beamed. “I know it was the hardest for him, but he seriously made such a commitment — and it was so different from what he’s ever done in the past. I was so proud of him.”
Georgette admitted it was emotional to watch Chastain and Shannon transform into her parents, but praised their performance. Today, she’s writing a cookbook, one that will share beloved family recipes.
“My parents were human — and we all make mistakes,” said Georgette. “My dad found a way after everything he went through with sobriety. My mother devoted herself to us kids while pursuing her dream… Despite everything they went through, I’m proud of them.”