This week in 1959: Pioneer IV was speeding past the moon for an orbit around the sun; United States pledged continued military aid to Iran, Pakistan and Turkey; President Dwight Eisenhower signed a bill to make Hawaii the 50th state; and a singer from Saratoga, Texas, had his 13th hit record and his first No. 1.
A lot of hit songs came about because of a suggestion from another writer or performer and according to Hank Locklin, he gave George Jones the idea for the 1959 hit song "White Lightning."
Locklin said, "I was working with Lefty Frizzell on a tour through Texas and Louisiana and George Jones was playing guitar for us. George was a pretty good guitar player and he was trying to write songs. One night he told me 'If I could just get one big hit, I'd never want another one.' I told him he was crazy because if he ever got one big hit, the very next thing he would want would be to go right out and get another big hit! And I told him there was one thing he could write about that had never been written and that was moonshine. So he and a guy named J.P. Richardson, who called himself The Big Bopper, wrote 'White Lightning' and George had his big hit record!"
George Jones' Mercury Records single "White Lightning" came on the charts March 9, 1959, went to No. 1 and stayed there for five weeks.
It was his 13th charted song and was on the charts for 22 weeks.
George was born in Saratoga, Texas, in 1931. He began his singing career on KTXJ Radio in Jasper, Texas, and KRIC Radio in Beaumont, Texas.
He placed 169 songs on the country music charts between 1955 and 2013 including 13 No. 1s. Eleven of those 169 country charted singles also placed on the pop charts.
George joined The Grand Ole Opry in 1956 and was awarded a Grammy for Lifetime Achievement in 2012. He was inducted into The Country Music Hall Of Fame in 1992.
George Jones died in 2013 at age 81.
Join Doug Davis weekends on KPIG-FM Radio 103.9 and 98.5 from 6 a.m. to noon for "Roots of Country" on Saturdays and "Sunday Country" on Sundays. You can also listen on the internet at Mypigradio.com and on the My Pig Radio Facebook page.