Funeral held for country legend George Jones

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- For a guy who sang so many sad songs, George Jones left behind a lot of laughs.

There was more humor than sadness at Jones' funeral Thursday at the Grand Ole Opry House as thousands gathered in Nashville -- some arriving hours before sunrise -- to pay their respects to the man whose voice has defined country music for more than half a century.

Friend after friend related stories of Jones' kindness, his love for his wife, Nancy, who's credited with helping him survive his personal demons later in life, and the funny little moments that will stick with them always.

Former first lady Laura Bush remembered dumping quarter after quarter into the jukebox to hear "The Race Is On." Wynonna Judd remembered his perfect hair and his friendship. And Vince Gill remembered the man who gave him the nickname "Sweet Pea," a moniker he wasn't sure he liked at first but now treasures.

The nearly 3-hour memorial was attended by several major country stars and political figures. Nancy Jones sat flanked by Bush and Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood. Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam spoke, as did former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee.

Each of the stars who performed had a personal connection to Jones. Randy Travis, who was anointed a traditional country voice by Jones, sang "Amazing Grace," a song Jones had once put his own personal stamp upon.

But it may have been Charlie Daniels who summed up Jones best in a long, beautifully rendered tribute. He noted Jones was probably the most imitated country singer of all time.

"George Jones' voice was a rowdy Saturday night uproar at a back-street beer joint, the heartbroken wail of the one who wakes up to find the other side of the bed empty, the far-off lonesome whistle of the midnight train, the look in the eyes of a young bride as that ring is placed on her finger, the memories of a half-asleep old man dreaming about the good old days," Daniels said.

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