Charleston man owns George Jones' first guitar - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Charleston man owns George Jones' first guitar

CHARLESTON, MO (KFVS) -

A public memorial service for the late George Jones was held Tuesday in Nashville, Tennessee.

The country music legend died last Friday at the age of 81.

The memorial for country legend George Jones was held at the Grand Ole Opry .

Former first lady Laura Bush spoke at the funeral along with friends and a variety of country singers who performed including Barbara Mandrell, Kenny Chesney, Brad Paisley, Alan Jackson, Tanya Tucker, Wynonna Judd, Charlie Daniels, Vince Gill, Patty Loveless and Randy Travis.

A private funeral was held on Wednesday but Thursday's memorial was open to the public.

Clifford Rowling of Charleston owns George's first guitar he had as a little boy.

Rowling was visiting his friend Dan McFail, an artist who lives in Kevil, Kentucky when he first learned of the guitar. McFail originally purchased the "Gene Autry Cowboy Guitar" at an estate auction several years ago, but did not know it was Jones' guitar.

In December of 2011, a TV production crew for the Learning Channel came to McFail's home to video a story for a show titled "Extreme Christmas Trees". McFail was known for his Famous "Antler Christmas Trees".

One of the producers noticed the guitar displayed on the wall and asked if he could examine it closer. He discovered the faintly written signature on the back of the guitar.

The producer took pictures of the guitar and forwarded them to George Jones. Upon seeing the pictures, George commented "That's my guitar, I would love to have it back."

After hearing the story, Rowling made McFail an offer he couldn't refuse and bought the guitar.

George Jones was also quoted saying, "none other meant more to me than that little ole Gene Autry."

Rowling took the guitar to Branson because Jones was scheduled to do a show at the Mansion Theater. Larry Gaitlin happened to be there and sang a song about George Jones while holding the guitar.

Learn more about George Jones' guitar.

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