Keith Richards: George Jones Was 'Pure American Music'

Read the Stones guitarist's heartwarming tribute to the country star

Keith Richards of The Rolling Stones performs in New York City. Credit: Kevin Mazur/WireImage

Keith Richards praises George Jones as "pure American music" in a statement sent by his representative today. "You can hear a million imitations on the radio every day – but there was, and ever will be, only one George Jones," Richards says.

You can read the Rolling Stones guitarist's full remarks below. Our full report from today's public funeral for Jones – which will feature performances from Brad Paisley and Kid Rock, as well as speeches from Kenny Chesney, Tennessee governor Bill Haslam, former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee and former First Lady Laura Bush  will be coming soon.

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In related Jones news, Billboard reports that his album sales have skyrocketed by 1,002 percent since his death last week, moving 35,000 units from his entire catalogue. The top seller was the 1998 compilation 16 Biggest Hits, which sold 9,000 copies this past week, and debuted at Number 42 on the Billboard 200 – the first time the country singer has ever placed higher than Number 53.

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Richards' full statement:

George Jones has left us. We have lost one of the most individual singers of all time. I cannot express the emptiness I feel.

George was as country as it can get, but he was beyond any bag you want to put him in. He was pure American music without ever waving a flag – you can hear a million imitations on the radio every day – but there was, and ever will be, only one George Jones.

He possessed the most touching voice, the most expressive ways of projecting that beautiful instrument of anyone I can call to mind. You heard his heart in every note he sang. Sinatra called him the second best singer ever. (The number one obviously being Frank!). I would contest that.

I truly loved 'the possum.' He was a crazy as me, and just as free… and, oh boy, could he hang.