WASHINGTON: Country music legend George Jones, singer of such enduring hits as “She Thinks I Still Care” during a career that spanned more than half a century, died on Friday, his publicist said. He was 81.

He passed away at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee, eight days after he was admitted to hospital with fever and irregular blood presssure, said Webster and Associates on its website.

Married from 1969 to 1975 to Tammy Wynette, the “Stand By Your Man” songstress who died in 1998, Jones scored his first hit in 1959 with “White Lightnin’” which topped the Billboard charts for five weeks.

The Texas native went on to record more than 160 charting singles, more than any popular music star of any genre, including several hits with Wynette such as “We’re Gonna Hold On”.

Jones’ personal life was long haunted by drugs and alcohol, but he credited his marriage to Nancy Ford Sepulvado in 1983, who survives him, for turning his life around and breathing new vigor into his career.

His long list of honors included membership in Nashville’s esteemed Grand Ole Opry, a place in the Country Music Hall of Fame and, in 2008, a Kennedy Center Honor for lifetime achievement.

Last year Jones announced a farewell tour that ended in November with a sell-out concert in Nashville with a galaxy of fellow country stars including Garth Brooks, Randy Travis, Charlie Daniels and Kenny Rogers.

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