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Clay Walker Remembers George Jones as the Man Who First Hired Him

Clay Walker
Frazer Harrison, Getty Images

More than 100 stars will pour into the Bridgestone Arena on Friday night forĀ George Jones‘ tribute show. Each has a personal memory or story to share about ol’ No Show. In fact, you’ll struggle to find a country singer who doesn’t list Jones as an influence.

“If there is, they’re probably afraid to say so,” Clay Walker tells Taste of Country. Walker grew up in Vidor, Texas, the Possum’s hometown. Jones was already legend by the time the ‘Fall’ hitmaker began toying with country music. His father was a big fan.

“George Jones actually gave me my first paying gig,” Walker says, sharing how he’ll remember the 81-year-old. “When I was 16, he hired me at Jones Country Music Park in Colmesneil, Texas. And I’ve been going ever since.”

“I grew up imitating him,” the singer furthers. “He led the way pretty well for all of country music, but for him to be from your hometown, there’s something personal there and deep. And a little bit of pride that goes along with it.”

Walker will play ‘Things Have Gone to Pieces’ at the George Jones farewell show. Garth Brooks, Blake Shelton, Alan Jackson, George Strait, Reba McEntire and Alabama are just a few of the 110 (at last count) stars who will take the stage. The show is sold out, but if you’re in Nashville, you can enjoy it from outside the venue, where it’ll be broadcast to anyone willing to pull up a seat.

Jones died on April 26, 2013.

Next: Watch Alan Jackson Sing 'He Stopped Loving Her Today' at Jones' Funeral

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