More than 100 artists including Garth Brooks, Dierks Bentley, Kid Rock, Megadeth, and Brad Paisley took to the stage in Nashville, Tennessee on Friday night to honor late country legend George Jones .
The date at the city’s Bridgestone Arena had originally been booked by Jones to host his final show before retirement, but the gig was transformed into a memorial concert following his death in April at the age of 81.
The cream of country music turned out to honor Jones at the event, billed as Playin’ Possum: The Final No Show, which was opened by Big & Rich, who sang 1965 hit “Love Bug” while riding lawn mowers on stage. The duo’s act was a reference to the late singer’s infamous drunken ride to a liquor store on a lawn mower after his wife took away his car keys.
The sold-out show featured 112 artists over four hours, including George Strait, Martina McBride, Eric Church, Emmylou Harris, Rodney Atkins, Montgomery Gentry, Thompson Square, Vince Gill and duets by married stars Blake Shelton and Miranda Lambert, and Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood.
Jamey Johnson also paired with heavy metal band Megadeth to play 1998 single “Wild Irish Rose,” with Dave Mustaine saying of the band’s inclusion in the line-up, “Heavy metal is all about rebellion, and George was definitely a rebel.”
The show was closed by Alan Jackson, who performed Jones’ hit He Stopped Loving Her Today and branded him “the greatest country singer that ever was”.
Country veteran Reba McEntire had been due to take part in the event, but had to withdraw due to illness, and she posted an apology to Jones’ widow, Nancy, on her Twitter.com page, writing, “Lost my voice tonight at the George Jones tribute. So sorry Nancy. Sure wanted to be a part of country music history.”