Country music legend George Jones passed away at a Nashville hospital from respiratory failure Friday morning at the age of 81.

The singer was admitted to the hospital last week with irregular blood pressure and a fever, according to, and is family was by his side at the time of his death.

"Today is a sad day for music," Jones's publicist said in a statement. "George said to me once, 'One day I'll Join the Angel band.' Well, today he did.

"George passed with his family by his side and the official cause of death is being listed as 'Hypoxic Respiratory Failure.'"

Jones had been in the midst of his farewell, "The Grand Tour," which he announced last fall, but he recently canceled two shows because of illness. He was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1992 and was a member of the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville.

The "He Stopped Loving Her Today" singer was born in Saratoga, Texas in 1931, and picked up the guitar at age nine. Seven years later he left home in pursuit of a music career, ultimately becoming one of the biggest names in country music. He enlisted in the United States Marine Corps during the Korean War, and after his discharge his music career began taking off.

Around that same time his alcoholism began taking off as well, and he earned the nickname "No-Show Jones" from missing numerous gigs because he was too drunk to perform. He was even known to use his riding mower to get to the liquor store or local bar at times when second wife Shirley Corley would hide the car keys on him; and third wife Tammy Wynette even wrote in her memoirs that Jones had driven their riding mower 10 miles to the nearest bar in the early hours of the morning.

Jones's legacy includes nearly 150 of his singles landing on the country music charts -- more than any other artist.

He was married four times, including a six-year marriage to fellow country star Wynette, with whom he had two sons and two daughters.

He is survived by his four children and his fourth wife Nancy, who he had been married to for 30 years