The death of country music star George Jones has made for "a very sad day," said fellow singer Pat Garrett.
Jones, 81, died Friday at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, according to his public relations firm. He had been hospitalized since April 18 with fever and irregular blood pressure.
Garrett learned of Jones' passing while attending the Leesburg Bikefest in Florida on Friday.
Jones performed a handful of times at Garrett's amphitheater in Upper Tulpehocken Township, often inviting Garrett on stage to sing with him.
"Old George was always one you could depend on, that would draw a crowd. You can't say that about many of them, but 'The Possum' put the people in the place," Garrett told 69 News. "I guess they liked his bad boy image."
Jones, nicknamed 'The Possum' because of his resemblance to the animal, was one of the last country music stars to perform for the final season at Garrett's amphitheater in 2005, and he always arrived in style, Garrett said.
"He always had a good looking bus," said Garrett. "I'll tell you what, man. The last one I was in he paid $1 million for. It was a pretty nice Prevost. He traveled in first class style."
More importantly, Garrett said, was Jones' ability to connect with his legion of fans as a country music star.
"He sang what people wanted to hear about real life and what people go through. He had that unique voice of his. He could go from real low bass to high-pitch songs," Garrett said. "People loved it."
Jones, a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame, was honored by the Kennedy Center in 2008 and received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2012.
Jones was scheduled to perform concerts at the American Music Theatre in Lancaster County on June 2 and at Penn's Peak in Carbon County on Aug. 22. Both venues have hosted Jones a number of times in previous years.
"We are grateful for the many concerts he performed here over the years, and will miss this country music icon," read a statement on the American Music Theater's website.
"We'll never forget our encounters with George at Penn's Peak. His legendary 'Grip & Grin' backstage meetings with his rabid fan base were something else," read a statement on Penn's Peak's website. "He treated each and every fan like a long last friend, and the memories he created for these people were something to behold."