Legendary performers honored at new Nashville museums

By Jackie Sheckler Finch

The UMA Motorcoach EXPO 2020 will meet in Nashville. Plan your exploring—and find new stops for a bus tour to one of the year’s hottest destinations.

George Glenn Jones almost died before he got a chance to live. The family doctor dropped the baby shortly after delivery. The sturdy newborn survived with only a broken arm.

But what a life the country music legend went on to live in that interval between the day he entered this world on Sept. 12, 1930, and the day he left on April 26, 2013.

“George went to hell and back with many addictions and he beat them all,” said widow Nancy Jones.

To share the story of the man many consider the greatest voice in country music, his widow opened the George Jones Museum on April 26, 2015.

In addition to the George Jones Museum, music fans of all genres and all ages now have even more reasons to visit “Music City.” Several new museums honoring entertainers have opened, adding to already popular landmark attractions.


George Jones Museum

A timeline of George Jones’ music invites visitors to put on headphones and listen to his songs over the years. A small theater with rocking chairs – a nod to his “I don’t need no rocking chair” hit – allows guests to rock in comfort while watching Jones’ video clips.

Other relics of the honky-tonk hero include his sequined suits and the infamous blue American Tourister overnight case that Jones called his “getaway bag,” always kept packed and ready for a quick exit.

Another exhibit dedicated to Jones’ tumultuous marriage to county icon Tammy Wynette showcases her white satin and chiffon dress, which she left behind after their divorce.

A major turning point in George’s troubled life occurred when he married Nancy Sepulvada in 1983. However, on April 18, 2013, the music was cut short when George was hospitalized with a fever and irregular blood pressure. He was 81 years old.

“I was with George the whole time,” Nancy said. Although she continued talking to him, she said Jones didn’t open his eyes or talk for his final five days – until the last minute.

“I was standing at the foot of his bed rubbing his feet,” Nancy said. “Suddenly, he opened his eyes and said, ‘Well, hello there. My name is George Jones and I’ve been looking for you.’ I know he was talking to God. And then he was gone.”


Patsy Cline Museum

Patsy Cline saved the memories of her life. After the singer’s death, her husband kept his wife’s memorabilia safe without telling even their daughters. Locked away for more than half a century, Patsy Cline’s collection is now being shared with the public at a new museum opened in downtown Nashville.

“Patsy Cline was very sentimental,” said museum founder Bill Miller. “I think people will be really surprised at what we have in the museum.”

Arranged in chronological order, exhibits trace Patsy Cline’s life from her birth on Sept. 8, 1932, in Winchester, Virginia, to her death in a plane crash near Camden, Tennessee, on March 5, 1963. She was 30 years old.

Some of the surprising exhibits are furniture, ashtrays and a still-running Norge refrigerator Cline had in her Nashville home. A carefully arranged photo album commemorates her wedding to Charlie Dick. And the front door key to her “dream home” still dangles from a tattered string.

Among the most poignant items are those recovered at the site of the plane crash that took Cline’s life, as well as the lives of singers Hawkshaw Hawkins and Cowboy Copas and Cline’s manager Randy Hughes, who was piloting the plane. The group was returning from a benefit show in Kansas City. Displayed is the silver Elgin watch Cline was wearing when she died.


Johnny Cash Museum

Walking in the footsteps of Johnny Cash, visitors to his museum traverse exhibits from the singer’s life, including his hardscrabble childhood days in Dyess, Ark., his Air Force years, his famous prison concert tour, his TV and movie career, his marriage to June Carter and his final days.

Items include four glass marbles that were among his few childhood toys and a guitar with a dollar bill stuffed in the upper strings. Because Cash’s band did not have a drummer until later, the dollar bill was used to simulate the sound of drums keeping a beat. You can hear this most in the original recording of “I Walk the Line.”

Visitors also can put on headphones and listen to Cash music from various decades, including one of his final hit releases before his death – the heart-rending video for “Hurt.” In it, the tormented still- powerful voice intones, “Everyone I know goes away in the end.”

Cash was 71 years old when the video was filmed in February 2003. He died seven months later on Sept. 12. Seen in the video sadly gazing at her husband, June Carter Cash died May 15, three months after filming.

Share this post