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

Legendary country couple Tammy Wynette and George Jones are like royalty in their genre, but their famous marriage was full of ups and downs. When did Wynette marry Jones, and why did she leave him? And what was their relationship like until her questionable death, which, by the way, led to a lawsuit against her widower and doctor? Read on to find out more.

Tammy Wynette loved George Jones even after their split
Tammy Wynette and George Jones | David Redfern/Redferns

When did Tammy Wynette marry George Jones?

Wynette and Jones married on Feb. 16, 1969, and she gave birth to their only daughter the following year. That daughter, Georgette Jones, wrote a memoir titled The Three of Us: Growing Up With Tammy and George.

“Dad was a musical hero to Mom, but it was much more than that,” she wrote. “Mom believed she had finally found her Prince Charming. She desperately wanted a champion.”

Jones was a little “rough around the edges when he drank,” but Wynette loved him and thought things between them would be more perfect someday. “… Like a lot of women have thought about men they loved, she believed she could change him,” Georgette said.

Why did Tammy Wynette leave George Jones?

Unfortunately, Jones was known for heavy drinking, which sometimes led to trouble. That’s something Reba McEntire once documented.

“She never could change him, but she loved Dad, even as she was leaving him,” Georgette concluded in her memoir. According to Biography, Wynette first filed for divorce in 1973, but the couple reconciled for a time before she re-filed the paperwork. Their divorce was finalized in 1975.

Wynette later wrote about her ex-husband’s alleged drunken antics during their marriage in a memoir. She claimed he once chased her with a loaded rifle, which he ultimately denied in a memoir of his own. But despite their divorce and the accusations made against him, they continued a musical partnership for most of the rest of her life.

Wynette was married five times in all. She wed twice before Jones and married again twice after they split. Meanwhile, he took four brides in his life — two before Wynette but only one after.

When did Tammy Wynette and George Jones die?

In her final years, Wynette experienced stretches of failing health when she underwent dozens of surgeries and medical procedures related to abdominal adhesions. She died at 55 on April 6, 1998, and her cause of death was documented as a blood clot in the lungs. But she was buried without an autopsy.

In Tammy Wynette: A Daughter Recalls Her Mother’s Tragic Life and Death, Wynette’s daughter Jackie Daly suggested her mother was dependent on prescription painkillers which contributed to her death. She claimed that a real need for medication triggered an addiction that some people around Wynette fed.

Per MTV, Wynette’s daughters filed a wrongful death suit against their mother’s doctor which originally included her fifth husband of almost two decades, George Richey. They claimed he helped cause her death by administering the medications, but his name was later dropped.

Notably, Wynette’s body was exhumed about a year after she died and her cause of death was determined to be heart failure, as reported by CMT. An out-of-court settlement was reached between the parties after that.

On April 26, 2013, Jones died of respiratory failure at 81. And the couple’s impact on pop culture is still undeniable, as a series called George and Tammy is in the works. It stars Michael Shannon as Jones and Jessica Chastain as Wynette.

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

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