There is an old saying that says, “Behind every good man is a good woman.” In the music business, behind every good entertainer, there is a group of good musicians. Behind every comedian, there is a good straight man. Having said all of this, when I think of Grandpa Jones, my father’s career, I think of George McCormick. He worked with my dad for many years. George McCormick was like dad’s third hand. If he forgot a joke or words to a song, George would feed him the lines, under his breath. If dad broke a string on his banjo, George would have the string changed and tuned before the next song was over. Whatever was needed, George was there.
When we traveled, George McCormick did a lot of the driving. I remember one time in Durango, dad had given him some money to fill the bus up and he dropped a hundred dollar bill. The wind caught it and blew it across the road. George ran after it. Every time he would get close, the wind would catch it again. He ran right out into the road and didn’t stop until he caught it.
Oh the Stories
I would sit up front and listen to him tell stories about his many experiences while working in country music. He talked about coming to Nashville and staying at Mom Upchurch’s Boarding House. She was a little old lady that took in country pickers, song writers, and road musicians.
George McCormick worked with many different artist including, Big Jeff, Wilma Lee and Stoney Cooper, and Martha Carson. For many years, he played guitar and sung with Porter Wagner, as one of the Wagon Masters. He gave me one of the original Wagon Master’s coats.
One story that comes to mind while George McCormick was working with dad: Doyle Dykes had just started working with dad on the road. It was actually his first date to play with them. Dad had a habit of traveling as far as he could and not stopping at the first available motel. Sometimes this didn’t work out so well and they would find themselves without a motel room for the night. This was exactly what happened the first night Doyle worked with them. George was telling Grandpa, “You’d better get a room!”
Dad was saying, “I’m not getting a room!”
When they finally did stop, there were no rooms to be had. They decided to just park and sleep on the bus but they only had two pillows. Both of them were on their best behavior and gave Doyle Dykes, the new kid, a pillow.
Grandpa then tossed the other pillow to George McCormick. George, being respectful, tossed it back to Grandpa, and this started an all out pillow fight over who would sleep on the pillow, each trying to give to the other until they finally ended up mad at each other, not speaking to each other even into the next day. You truly become family when you work together on the road.
George McCormick is serious about his music, but an overall fun guy to work with.