During the early phase of his career, “White Lightning” was regarded as George Jones’s trademark song. This is perhaps why it might come as a shock to his beloved fans when it’s revealed that Jones was not the first person to record the track.
“White Lightning” was in fact initially composed and recorded by rockabilly musician, J.P. Richardson, who was referred to as the Big Bopper. He released the track as a single in February 1959, and Jones released his very own rendition soon after.
Actually, Richardson and Jones were good friends, which made the recording of “White Lightning” a sentimental event for Jones. This is especially true because, a few days before Jones recorded the song, Richardson tragically died in a plane crash – the same one that claimed the lives of Buddy Holly and Ritchie Valens.
Indeed, that day would go down in history as “the day that music died.” Regardless of all the feelings that had gone into recording “White Lightning,” Jones was able to turn the song into the fun and upbeat tune we all know and love today.
It proceeded to become the very first # 1 hit song of his career, when it secured the top spot on the country chart on April 13, 1959. “White Lightning” has also been a crossover hit, and has become Jones’ biggest achievement on the Billboard Top 100, where it reached the 73rd spot.
After some time, a number of other musicians went on to cover “White Lightning,” such as Waylon Jennings and Hank Williams Jr. Even though their renditions are both unquestionably fantastic, there is absolutely no one in the whole world who can sing it like Jones!
Tune in below to check out one of Jones’s earliest performances of his trademark song, taken from among his appearances on the popular show Hee Haw. Go on and sing along – we are absolutely certain you know the lyrics!