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Country music couple George Jones and Tammy Wynette were like American royalty until he chased her with a loaded rifle, she claimed. And Jones confessed the situation inside their dream home was less picture-perfect than their public image. But what did he have to say about the terrifying allegations his former flame made?

Tammy Wynette claimed George Jones, shown on stage together in 1980, once chased her with a loaded rifle during their marriage
Tammy Wynette and George Jones | Kirk West/Getty Images

How long were George Jones and Tammy Wynette married?

By most accounts, the union between Jones and Wynette was rocky. But it started simply as two of country music’s stars falling in love.

According to Biography, they met in a Nashville recording studio and felt an instant connection. Jones professed his love to Wynette while she was in a fight with her second husband, and the feeling was mutual.

Wynette left that marriage, and she and Jones married in 1969. It was the third union for both stars. And they had six children combined, three each. The year following their marriage, they had one daughter.

Together, they were “Mr. and Mrs. Country Music,” and fans adored them. They didn’t fight over who got top billing, trading according to who would attract more people to whatever venue they played. Through songs like “We’re Gonna Hold On” and “Golden Ring,” their love carved out a special place for the couple in country music, even if their marriage couldn’t last.

What part did George Jones’ rifle supposedly play in his divorce from Tammy Wynette?

Jones’ habit of drinking was evident. Take, for example, the famous story of him riding a lawnmower to a liquor store, a trip that eventually inspired a mural in Nashville. As the story goes, he did that because Wynette locked up all the keys to their vehicles to keep him from getting more alcohol.

But according to Wynette, Jones’ habit was nothing to be inspired by. She said he would become terrifyingly unpredictable when he was drinking. As reported by People in 1995, she supposedly ended the marriage — at least initially — in 1973 when Jones came home drunk, chased her through their home, and fired at her with a loaded rifle.

Still, they were rumored to have remained on and off during a period she was said to have started dating Burt Reynolds. Seemingly inevitably, Jones and Wynette divorced in 1975.

And since Wynette told the story of the chase in her 1979 autobiography, Stand by Your Man, many readers assumed it was true. But what did Jones say about the scary tale?


Tammy Wynette ‘Never Could Change’ George Jones but Still Loved Him When She Left Him

Did George Jones confirm Tammy Wynette’s loaded rifle story?

In Jones’ memoirI Lived to Tell It All — he directly addressed the story Wynette told. “… Tammy claimed I fired a gun at her as she ran across our backyard,” he wrote. “Nonsense.”

He said they had a “stormy and passionate” relationship. Still, he scoffed at how a TV movie adapted from Wynette’s autobiography depicted him shooting up the inside of a home he said he “worked so hard to remodel.”

So, Jones said that story was all make-believe, maybe for book sales. And he wasn’t the only person who said Wynette told a tall tale for one reason or another. Her daughters later claimed she concocted a kidnapping story to cover up a terrible secret she was keeping for her fifth and last husband.

Despite the bad blood and bold claims against each other, Jones and Wynette reconciled professionally. And according to those who knew him, he was in and out of sobriety until he stopped drinking for good in 1999, the year after Wynette died and 14 years before his death at 81.

How to get help: In the U.S., contact the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration helpline at 1-800-662-4357.