Farm Aid / YouTube
During a time when a new era of country singers was emerging, songwriters Troy Seals and Max D. Barnes asked themselves if any of these up-and-coming singers would fill the shoes of the legends who came before them.
The song they composed from this idea was brought to life by the powerful vocals from a legend himself, George Jones in 1985. In “Who’s Gonna Fill Their Shoes,” Jones sings about country legends which include Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash, Merle Haggard, Conway Twitty, Roy Acuff, Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Hank Williams, Marty Robbins, and Lefty Frizzell.
He wonders who will replace them when they are gone, even though he knows they are irreplaceable. Jones had the ability to portray emotions the way no one else could, which makes this live performance even more incredible.
Jones filmed his first-ever music video for this song and it won him Music Video of the Year at the 1986 CMA Awards, beating out favorites Reba McEntire and Dwight Yoakam.
When Jones passed away in 2013, Andrew Mueller wrote his obituary in the magazine Uncut saying, “As it turned out [“Who’s Gonna Fill Their Shoes] wasn’t brilliantly timed. A few of its protagonists still had decades left in them, as did Jones himself.”
Jones performed up until just weeks before his death and when that tragic event occurred, country fans asked themselves, “Who’s gonna fill his shoes?”
Watch his incredible live performance of the iconic song from Farm Aid in 1985 below.