On December 20, 1968, George Jones and Tammy Wynette collaborated for the last time on the song “Near You.” The creative minds behind the song were Francis Craig, a talented songwriter known for holding the No. 1 spot on Billboard’s Pop Chart for numerous consecutive weeks in 1947, and Kermit Goell.
The recording session of “Near You” unfolded against the backdrop of the challenging phase in George Jones and Tammy Wynette’s six-year marriage. The studio ambiance became increasingly intense, with George and Tammy barely exchanging words, and their strained relationship was palpable during the recording. Jones, intentionally introduced unpredictability into his singing, making it a formidable task for Tammy to keep pace. These artistic quirks created a challenging atmosphere for everyone involved. Producer Billy Sherrill found himself thinking, “This has to come to an end.”
Unfortunately, the challenges persisted beyond the studio. George Jones and Tammy Wynette returned home around midnight after the recording session. Despite George’s assurance that things would improve, while Tammy was away for a dental appointment the next morning, Jones decided to make a permanent departure. This significant day was December 13, 1974.
Within three months, their divorce was finalized, and Tammy Wynette maintained no contact with George Jones. It wasn’t until October 1975 that Tammy crossed paths with George once again.
The Success of “Near You”
The recording of George and Tammy’s rendition of “Near You” remained shelved for a couple of years. Interestingly, it wasn’t until six months after their collaborative track “Golden Ring” claimed the top spot on Billboard’s Country Singles chart that “Near You” saw the light of day.
Despite the challenges faced during the initial recording, “Near You” defied expectations and secured its place at the pinnacle of the same chart, where it reigned for a solid two weeks. Subsequently, their follow-up, “Southern California,” made a respectable entry at No. 5.
Several years post their divorce, with cooled heads and a renewed collaboration, George Jones and Tammy Wynette reunited for an album. This reunion venture yielded their final hit, “Two Story House.” This last collaborative effort surfaced in the spring of 1995, a mere three years before the unfortunate passing of Tammy Wynette at the age of 55.