Country Artist George Riddle Dies

george riddle

George Riddle

Country entertainer George Riddle died Sunday, July 20 in his home state of Indiana.

The singer, songwriter and veteran sideman had reportedly been battling throat cancer. He had surgery for the disease in May, then died of complications at a hospital in Indianapolis. He was 78 years old.

George Riddle was perhaps best known as the founding member of George Jones’s touring band, The Jones Boys. In fact, during the superstar’s early days on the road in the 1960s, Riddle was his only accompanist and harmony singer. The band was subsequently built around him.

Riddle also wrote 13 songs recorded by Jones, as well as titles recorded by Faron Young, Tammy Wynette, Margie Singleton, Del Reeves, Mickey Gilley, Ray Charles, Frankie Miller and Rose Maddox. In 1963, Melba Montgomery had top-40 hits with Riddle’s songs “Hall of Shame” and “The Greatest One of All.”

Born in Marion, Indiana, George V. Riddle began his career as a child performer in a traveling medicine show. He was then a teenage radio singer on stations in his home state, as well as in Tennessee and Florida. Following service in the army, he moved to Nashville in 1960. His first major job as a sideman was in Don Gibson’s troupe.

He initially served as a Jones Boy in 1960-63. As such, he appeared in the 1963 movie Country Music on Broadway. Riddle is also notable as the high-harmony vocalist on several Jones hit records of the 1960s.

In addition, George Riddle was a solo recording artist. He was signed to United Artists (1960-63), Starday (1963-67), MGM (1967-69) and Musicor (1970), as well as a number of smaller independent labels. His most popular single was “She’s Lonesome Again,” recorded for UA. Among his seven LP releases are Country Callin’ and Riddle N Rhyme.

He performed in package shows and headlined his own dates for many years, working alongside a who’s-who of country music, including Porter Wagoner, Johnny Cash and Patsy Cline. In 1991-2003, Riddle was a member of Bill Carlisle’s band on the Grand Ole Opry. He was formerly married to country singing star Norma Jean.

Following a long residency in Goodlettsville, George Riddle returned to his home state. Since 2005, he has hosted “Classic Country Jamboree,” a Saturday-morning weekly radio show on WCJC near his home in Gas City, Indiana. He won R.O.P.E. (Reunion of Professional Entertainers) awards in Nashville in 2011 (as a DJ) and 2012 (as a songwriter).

George Riddle is survived by daughter Suzanne Fiser, by sisters Roberta King and Lola Miller and by grandchildren. Funeral arrangements are being handled by Raven-Choate Funeral Home in Marion, Indiana.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions can be made to Marion-Grant County Humane Society (2768 W. Avon Ave., Marion, IN 46953), to Cancer Services of Grant County (305 S. Norton St., Marion, IN 46952) or to Marion VA Recreational Services (1700 E. 38th St., Marion, IN 46953).

George Jones (L) and George Riddle


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Category: Artist, Featured, Obituary

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Robert K. Oermann is a longtime contributor to MusicRow. He is a respected music critic, author and historian.

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