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'The Possum' began the festivities with a party at Nashville's famous barbecue joint, Rippy's, where he was joined by fans and celebrities alike, before heading to the Grand Ole Opry, where stars including Alan Jackson and the Oak Ridge Boys feted the country music legend with a special concert. The dual parties were almost more than the octogenarian could take in.
"It means everything," he shares with Billboard magazine. "I'm just overwhelmed. It's great. Everybody has been so wonderful."
The Texas-born entertainer has enjoyed more than 55 years as a top-selling artist, but insists he has no plans of slowing down anytime soon. "I would love to do a few albums with some different artists," reveals the 'He Stopped Loving Her Today' singer. "As far as any singles go, I'm not really looking forward to that. I would love to do some duets again, maybe like some of the funny things that Ernest Tubb and Red Foley used to do years ago."
The Music City resident, who boasts more songs logged on the country charts than any other artist in history, admits there are a few songs he passed on -- and later regretted. "Well, I turned down 'Oh, Lonesome Me' by Don Gibson," he ruefully recalls. "I turned down 'The Image of Me' by Conway Twitty. One of the good ones that I fell in love with but I fell in love with too late was 'Too Cold at Home.' Bobby Harden brought me that one back in 1990, but he just brought me the words. That's one I wish I had done, but I couldn't see anything that good about it with no music. I thought 'Who in the hell wants to hear a song about the house being cold, and it being too cold at home. That's been going on for a lot of years.' The next thing I know, Mark Chesnutt has first No. 1. So that just goes to show that you're not always right."
The Country Music Hall of Fame member, who fought a well-publicized battle with alcoholism a few decades ago, says he never could have imagined all he has experienced in his historic career. "I don't know what I would have said [to my younger self] because I never thought about dying," he concedes. "You just wake up one day and look in the mirror and go 'What happened,' he adds. "That's just the way it works."
George isn't letting his age keep him close to home. He continues to perform all across the country, including a stop in Indiana this weekend (Sept. 17), followed by stops in Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi. Keep track of his tour schedule here.