George Jones Delivers “White Lightning” On Episode Of “Hee Haw”

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The History Behind The Song “White Lightning”

From the earliest stage of his career, “White Lightning” has been considered one of George Jones’ signature songs. So that’s why it may come as a surprise to some that Jones was not the first one to record the tune.

“White Lightning” was originally written and recorded by rockabilly artist J.P. Richardson, known as “the Big Bopper.” He released the song as a single in February 1959, while Jones released his own version afterward.

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As it turns out, Richardson and Jones were good friends, which made recording “White Lightning” an emotional experience for Jones.

That’s because one week before Jones stepped into the studio to record the song, Richardson lost his life alongside singers Buddy Holly and Ritchie Valens on what later became known as “The Day the Music Died.”

Watch George Jones Sing “White Lightning” On Hee Haw

Despite all of the emotions that went into recording “White Lightning,” Jones managed to turn the song into the fun-loving tune we know today.

It became the first #1 hit of his career when it claimed the top spot on the country chart on April 13, 1959. “White Lightning” also became Jones’ greatest success on the Billboard Hot 100, where it peaked at the 73rd spot.

George Jones recorded the song "White Lightning"
Jasper Dailey/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Over time, a handful of other artists have covered “White Lightning,” including Waylon Jennings and Hank Williams Jr.

But, no one in the world can sing it quite like Jones!

Tune in below to watch one of Jones’ earliest performances of his signature tune, during one of his appearances on the popular show Hee HawGo ahead and feel free to sing along!

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