Tales From the Tour Bus (2017) s01e04 Episode Script

George Jones and Tammy Wynette Part 2

1 (car engine revs) (country music playing) Welcome back to the story of maybe the most famous marriage in Nashville: George Jones and Tammy Wynette.
They first got together when country was blowing up, crossing over into the mainstream culture.
Some of their biggest hits were about marriage, even when their own was falling apart.
We're gonna hold on We're gonna hold on To each other The marriage didn't last long, about six years, but they kept producing big hits for decades.
Despite death threats, drug problems, and new spouses, they always seemed to find their way back to each other.
I got to witness a little of this near the end.
Tammy did the voice of Hank Hill's mom on King of the Hill.
Don't tell me you're uncomfortable with the thought of me and Gary sleeping in the same room.
I didn't have that thought, Mom.
You put that thought in my And I heard from her that George could do a mean Donald Duck, under certain conditions.
We'll get to that later.
(theme music playing) Tammy was a beautiful lady, and George was a great man.
He just had some demons.
You knew when he was messed up when he didn't have that hair sprayed down.
That hair would get all over his face, I mean, everywhere.
But when he was straight, he was so particular.
He would use a whole can of hairspray.
It would be so stiff, I said, "George, a bug couldn't even fly on your head.
" Mike: Wayne Oliver was 20 years old when George and Tammy got married and started performing together.
He spent much of his career booking their shows.
We were playing up in Washington, DC, and we were headed to Logan, Ohio.
I said, "George, let's go.
Let's go to the hotel, spend the night.
We'll fly there in the morning.
" He said, "No, I wanna ride the bus.
" I said, "Uh-oh.
" When he said he wanted to ride the bus and didn't fly, I knew something was going on.
So I told the bus driver and the band, I said, "Don't let him off the bus till you get to Logan, Ohio.
" So the next morning, all the band members were standing around the bus, and I said, "What's wrong?" They said, "George is gone.
" I said, "What?" They said, "Yeah, we woke up and he was gone.
" I said, "Shit, we've got this show out here, and it's gonna be 25,000 to 30,000 people.
" And they said, "Well, he was walking down thataway.
" So I went down there, walking, and I seen two little ladies out in the front yard.
And I said, "Ma'am, have y'all seen George Jones?" She said, "Well, he just left.
Nicest man in the world.
Fact, we had two bottles of wine.
" I said, "What?" She said, "Yeah," said, "He come by, and he was thirsty.
" And I said, "Can you tell me where he went?" She said, "Well, he was gonna go right down here to the cab stand.
" I said, "Thank you very much.
" So I went down there and the cab driver said, "Yeah.
" He said, "George got in a cab about an hour ago.
Said he's headed to Nashville.
" I said, "Holy shit.
George is gone.
" I said, "I don't know what we're gonna do.
" And you seen those people had been out there all day, drinking.
And we'd seen some pretty nice fights, and I said, "Look, we've got a little problem.
" I said, "George is gone.
" And there was a DJ standing over on the other side.
He heard me say that, and he went up on the stage and said, "George Jones is gone.
There's not gonna be a show.
" And I said, "Damn it.
" People were tearing the stages down.
They were throwing rocks at the bus, cutting the tires on the bus.
Lucky, I had a .
38 with me in my briefcase.
And just happened, a lot of Hell's Angels come to the show.
And I recognized one of 'em, and I motioned for him to come over.
And he come to the side of the bus, I said, "Spook, you gotta get our ass out of here.
They're gonna kill all of us.
" He come over on the motorcycles.
We went out of there on the rims.
The tires had come off.
A little later on, I got a phone call that he was checked in the Holiday Inn there in Panama City.
George always thought I had a bug on him, because I could find him anywhere he went.
And he would love to go to some cheap hotel, just stay in there and eat fried chicken and drink two or three fifths of Evan Williams Whiskey.
I'll never 'get.
I went and knocked on the door, and I said, "Room Service.
" And he says, "I knew you'd find me.
" So I got him washed and got that hair sprayed down, and we come back to Logan, Ohio.
And he went out there and done about a two and a half hour show.
He apologized to the crowd he missed.
He said, "You know how I am.
" Said, "I wanna thank those two little old ladies for giving me those two bottles of wine we dranked.
" I mean when Jones turned it on, there was nobody could touch him, brother.
Someday my day will come (cheers, applause) I won't need a thing at all I can stand proud and tall And say just what I feel Mike: George's talent was giant, indisputable.
His commitment was another thing.
His wife, Tammy, and all those who worked with him were enamored by his voice, but also living at the mercy of his drinking.
Nanette: She would laugh about it then - (Janette laughs) - but it was so horrendous that he was so drunk, and he was wrecking the house.
And she was afraid he was gonna go out and get in the car, and have a car accident or whatever.
Mike: Janette and Nanette Smith, sisters, rode the bus with George and Tammy for years, doing hair and makeup on the road and in the studio.
This was probably during the gypsy shag era.
This would be a little up-do for her.
This is called a page boy.
Mike: The Smith sisters weren't allowed to touch George's hair.
That was Tammy's job.
I'd say, "George, do you want me to do your hair?" "No, I'll wait on my hairdresser.
(laughs) - Tammy's hair.
Mike: The girls would, however, conspire with Tammy to keep Jones off the bottle.
Tammy calls me and she said to George at home, "George, that was Jan.
Her yardman is sick, she needs a yardman.
You know how that yard of hers is.
It can't go a week.
Da-da-da.
" So she calls me in a few minutes, and she says, "Don't get near a window.
Don't get near a door.
Don't peep out, but when you get a chance, look at your yardman.
" I look out.
George Jones is out there in a wifebeater, a pair of shorts, some tennis shoes, a ball cap, taking all of his rakes, cutters and things out of his car.
He didn't give a damn.
He wanted to be a yardman.
Janette: He worked on my yard for three hours.
It was more perfect than it ever has been.
And he had a big number-one record then.
So when he started to get in the truck and leave, I opened the door and I was like, "Aren't you gonna autograph it?" He was like (laughs) Tammy called me and asked me to come and look for him.
I found him one time, 12 or one o'clock at night, I found him on one of those back roads when he'd pulled over to throw up.
He was hanging out of the car, his head almost touching the ground, passed out, with the door open and the car running.
I think I might have saved his life at that time.
Tammy finally got fed up with George's drinking, and to retaliate, she had fed him some poisoned food.
And it was moldy cornbread, sour beans, and rotten potatoes.
George got to throwing up for a few days and had stomach problems, and he said that she poisoned him, 'cause was going to collect that insurance.
And I said, "George, you know, it could've been something you eat.
" This is the sort of thing that Tammy had to endure, because there was no controlling Jones, and he just didn't give a shit.
Mike: You may recall Gonzo journalist, Jimmy McDonough, one of the last to interview Tammy about her time with George.
At one point, Tammy alleges that George came home from a bender, he threw a punch at her and missed.
She got him into bed, and he woke up and proceeded to go berserk.
She said he pointed a rifle in her direction and fired at her (gunshot) and destroyed the contents of the house.
(gunfire) I got there, and he is wilder than a buck, had hair everywhere.
Finally, we took the gun away from him, and he said, "I'm sorry.
I'm sorry.
I don't know why I did it.
" Jimmy: He ended up being dragged away in a straight jacket, where he spent 10 days drying out.
Tammy reached her end point.
I have never seen a more terrified human being, but she by golly, she did it.
Jimmy: That was the end.
Tammy wouldn't let him come home, and the marriage was over.
The great storybook romance that Tammy dreamed of was no more.
Mike: The split had ramifications beyond their love for each other and the children.
Having Mr.
and Mrs.
Country Music break up, well, that's bad for business.
No question about whether or not her career or his career might be hurt by their divorce, and of course, how to divide up the band.
Mike: The Jones Boys real brothers, Don, Gary, and Arnie Adams had been with George and Tammy from the beginning, alongside a rotating door of fellow Jones boys, musicians like singer-songwriter Johnny Paycheck and George's closest friend, songwriter and guitar player, Peanutt Montgomery.
When I was a Jones Boy, traveling with him, I drank beer, you know.
I never could understand how George could drink and sit for six or eight hours and never go to the bathroom.
You know, he must've been wearing Depends.
(both laugh) Peanutt: Sometimes he'd lock the bathroom door, you know, when I needed to use the bathroom.
I broke him of that.
I'd go back in his bedroom and pee on the floor.
Mike: When the marriage ended, the situation on the road changed.
How did the Jones boys end up with Tammy? - That was in the divorce.
- Oh, okay, yeah.
Tammy got custody of the band.
(guys laugh) The band all went with Tammy, the bus went with Tammy, because she was the one that they could depend on, and they actually liked her.
Mike: In 1976, Tammy went back out on the road without George Jones for the first time in years.
We're on the bus, and Tammy said, "What if nobody comes?" We all fell out laughing, 'cause she thought they were coming to see George Jones.
She was so scared every night.
"What if nobody shows up? What if they want Jones to be here?" (crowd shouting) Janette: They kept screaming, "Where's George?" - And James Holly - He was the bass player.
And he went up to the microphone and said, "We don't know where George is, - and he doesn't either.
" - "And he doesn't either.
" (chuckles) After the divorce, certain of George's fans wanted to vent their anger at Tammy, and she was, in some cases, ridiculed.
- She was pretty gutsy.
- She was real gutsy.
If we could've just excluded men from her life, she'd still be alive and be the biggest star in the world.
After Tammy left George, George was a mess.
We'd hunt, we'd camp out.
He just liked to do things.
He threw out in the river one day and caught a little bitty bream, and he said, "Oh, Peanutt, the fish are out in the middle of the river.
" That was not a bream he caught.
He caught a catfish about this long.
Anyway, when he'd go fishing, it wound up costing him a fortune.
Said, "We gotta go get a boat.
" So they took off to the sporting goods place and bought a boat.
And then he realized he had to have something to pull it with, so they went down to the Chevrolet place and bought a new truck.
He sent me to the grocery store to get folding chairs, and cooking pots and pans, and food.
And so we got the truck and the boat all together, and pulled it down to the river.
He'd dig a hole and put corn wrap it up in tin foil, bury it in the ground, and build a fire in there on coals and roast that corn.
I don't know where he learned to do all this stuff.
Indians.
Mike: With the exception of the expense, these nature sojourns worked out pretty well, until Peanutt found God and decided to get sober.
George went the other way.
By then, he'd begun playing music again with his only connection to Tammy, the Jones Boys.
George would jerk out a bag of cocaine there, and then he would just get completely stoned, totally.
Mike: This newfound high apparently caused some kind of psychotic break in George, which lead to multiple personalities well, two personalities: The duck and the old man.
- The duck came first.
- Yeah.
And the old man came later, so he'd have somebody to talk to.
Gary: He'd sit up all night long, sitting in there in the bed, and he would be talking in the Donald Duck voice.
When he'd get in a car and he was drinking, he would talk like Donald Duck.
(mimics Donald Duck) Then he'd talk like the old man.
I don't believe in it.
It ain't natural.
And then they'd get in a fight, and then he'd get between them.
If the good Lord meant for us to read, we'd be born knowing how! (mimics Donald Duck) Wayne: And he wouldn't be paying no attention where he was going.
You know, George had a lot of wrecks.
(mimics Donald Duck moaning) (car horn moos) One day, we were on the bus, going down the road with the band, and he decided he wanted to get rid of the duck, - so he kicked him off the bus.
- (Duck voice) No, no, no, no! Charlene: And he went on down the road a while, and he got to worrying about it.
He'd done kicked the duck off the bus, and it was his best friend.
So he made the driver turn around, and go back and pick up the duck, put him back on the bus.
(mimics Donald Duck) That's when we we convinced ourselves, "Boys, we've got to do something with him.
" "You know, we can't go on with you, uh, being so distraught over Tammy, and you can't even perform.
" And we convinced him that he should sign up with Tammy just so he could be back somewhere in association with her.
One song that George and Tammy did after the divorce was "Golden Rings.
" It was a true story.
They have a ring they found in a pawn shop, and ended up with a broken marriage.
And I think that affected the fans greatly because it had so much personal tragedy in it.
In a pawnshop in Chicago On a sunny summer day A couple gazes at the wedding rings there on display She smiles and nods at him As he says, "Honey, that's for you It's not much, but it's the best that I can do" Both: Golden rings With one tiny little stone You know, the beautiful thing is, that in spite of all this crazy, crazy stuff, they managed to keep it together as artists.
And you listen to that song, you get the whole picture of everything they're about in one record.
There's nothing like it.
We get along better now than we ever have.
I'll never get George Jones out of my life.
He'll always be a part of my life.
He was my idol.
He still is.
We may not can live together, but he can still make me cry, listening to him sing.
Both: A couple gazes at The wedding rings there on display Mike: Unfortunately, "Golden Ring" was a mirage, a fantasy for the stage.
Backstage, George was treated to the sight - of a variety of men courting his ex-wife.
- (applause) Tammy Wynette had to be in love, and it was very easy for her to get a man, because she was Tammy Wynette.
There was Johnny Rodriguez.
There was a guy that drove our bus.
I dated the bass player, she had her way with him.
I dated Michael Tomlin, she married him.
She stole all my boyfriends.
One of the people that she fell in love with was Burt Reynolds.
Burt Reynolds had a horse ranch in Jupiter, Florida, so Tammy decided that she wanted to buy a second house to be near Burt.
When she fell in love with somebody, she would pursue it to the ends of the earth.
Mike: She was pursued publicly as well by the rich and the powerful, who just wanted to be seen as the man by her side.
Every politician in the world wanted to stand there singing, "Stand By Your Man.
" So one day, she's standing by the side of George Wallace, and the next day, she's standing beside Ronald Reagan.
Well, we're in Jackson, Mississippi, and Ronald Reagan would always kiss her on the cheek at the end of the song.
Well, Ronald Reagan kissed her in the mouth.
She come off, she's furious.
She went, "He swabbed my tonsils, Jan.
He almost gagged me.
I am putting an end to this.
" And she got this huge red dress that she was gonna wear to the White House.
So she goes on the stage, she does "Stand By Your Man" at the end.
Well, she usually goes out in the audience and gets a man to stand by.
The president is sitting there, just grinning, with his wife sitting by him, and everybody knew how jealous she was.
And all of a sudden, Tammy sits down in his lap, puts her arm around his neck.
The Secret Service perks up, everybody perks up.
I thought I was gonna die.
Then they go in the dressing room, and she said, "Bet I don't have to stand by him anymore.
" (laughing) Mike: The seemingly endless string of men in her life, of course, fueled George's demons, but Tammy had her own peculiar problems, according to their daughter, Tamala Georgette Jones.
We started having death threats on my grandparents, on me, on my mom.
We went bowling one night, and someone had broken into our house and turned on every faucet and bathtub, so that when we got home, our entire house was flooded.
And on every TV and mirror, any type of reflective surface, they had taken red lipstick and written, "Slut, whore, pig," all throughout the entire house.
Multiple instances like this that had happened over several months.
My assumption was always that it had been a disgruntled fan of George Jones' who was mad at Tammy for divorcing George.
She asked me to come over, and she had thoughtfully provided me a shotgun, which I placed under the bed in case some prowler came through, but nothing happened.
And the same thing the next night, nothing happened, so I didn't go back over there to spend the night anymore, but a few days later, somebody firebombed the house.
(shatters) Georgette: I was in my mom's bedroom, and the house caught on fire there, and the whole back of the house burned down.
Tennessee fire marshal decided to have polygraph tests of everybody that had been there.
And they tested Tammy, said, "She might have had something to do with this.
" And they tested her daughters, who were teenagers at best.
And each time they would test one, they'd say, "She did it.
We've got it.
" Then they tested her mother, Mildred.
"Mildred must have had something to do with this.
" And her grandmother, who could hardly walk, and said, "She was involved.
" After that, I became very skeptical of any polygraph test.
All sorts of bizarre, unexplained incidents happened in Tammy's life.
You know, there's the alleged kidnapping.
No one was ever arrested in that.
There was always people out to get her or some espionage around Tammy, which was never really, uh, explained away.
Mike: Tammy would eventually remarry yet another manager and develop her own lethal addiction to prescription pain killers.
George hit his own rock bottom after losing Tammy, the duck, the old man, and then losing his best friend, Peanutt Montgomery, to organized religion.
George was really upset because Peanutt had become a Christian.
He was jealous of Jesus.
Charlene: George began to get mad at Peanutt, because he wouldn't go do concerts, wouldn't go places to gamble, so I was at home, and George called the house.
He said, "Where's Little Jesus?" I said, "George, what do you mean?" "You know what I mean.
Where's Little Jesus? "I want to get him down, I'm gonna pull his beard out, one by one with some tweezers.
" And I'd just hang up on him.
Well, after a while, Peanutt called me and said they got to talking.
And George asked Peanutt to meet him down at Cypress Creek.
When I got down there, he was down there.
I pulled up there, and he was sitting there with the window down.
And I pulled up beside him, and I rolled my window down and hung my arms out just like that, you know.
I said, "George, what are you persecuting me for?" He said, "People just don't know what I go through with.
" And all at once, he just reached out beside him and got that pistol.
And he said, "I'm gonna see if you're old God can save you now, you m-f'er.
" That's what he said, the very words only he said the word.
And he shot at me, pow, like that.
He missed me, and then he pulled that trigger back on that .
38 again.
I could hear it.
He just looked at me like this, he said, "Well, Peanutt, I'm going to the house," like nothing had ever happened.
Just like that.
He let his window up, drove off.
I went to the sheriff.
I said, "George Jones just took a shot at me, tried to kill me.
" I had one guy who took his knife and dug the bullet out of the door.
My friend was the district attorney.
We all partied together and stuff, and he told me, "Well, you know, he'll go off with 15 years," he said, "because that's attempted murder.
That's a felony.
"If you want to pursue him and convict him, I'll convict him.
" But I dropped charges on him.
I dropped the charges.
Mike: - Believe it or not, there is a happy ending to this story, but it's probably not the one you're used to hearing.
We put him in the hospital and dried him out.
And, uh, he called me, at home, after about four or five weeks.
He said, "I wanted to know if you'd do an album with me?" I said, "Yeah, I'd be glad to.
" He said, "I know we ain't got no money now, "and things ain't looking good, but if you'll stay with me, I've got a song that's gonna bring us out of this.
" He had such confidence, it convinced us.
"Okay, George, then you need to get in there.
"Go to the studio, you know, and get your voice back, get your brain back, and record that.
" I went to see my friend today Oh and I didn't see no tears All dressed up to go away First time I'd seen him smile in years He stopped loving her today (cheering) They placed a wreath upon his door That just blew the tops off the charts there and was absolutely the biggest song for two solid years in a row.
But he stopped loving her today Wayne: George had a lot of women, but he only loved one, and that was Tammy.
He might shoot up the house, but he loved her.
I've seen that man lay down and cry at night how much he loved Tammy.
I think they both had an addiction problem.
He was addicted to alcohol, and Tammy was addicted to Jones.
And it kept running through my mind "Well, this time he's over her for good" My mom, even weeks before she died, we had a conversation, and she just flat out said, "The love of my life will always be your dad.
Your dad is that one for me.
" But he stopped loving her Today (cheers, applause) (theme music playing)