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Nashville, TN-- Fifteen minutes before the private visitation began Wednesday evening for Country Music Hall of Famer George Jones, the parking lot at Woodlawn-Roesch-Patton Funeral Home was full, cars packed the pathways around the cemetery, and a line of traffic snaked down the winding driveway and into the street.
Among those sitting in traffic: Loretta Lynn. Guests stood two deep in a line that stretched around the building and included Mark Collie, Jim Lauderdale, the Oak Ridge Boys' Duane Allen and John Rich. Later, Trace Adkins and Brad Paisley were whisked in without waiting.
Billy Ray Cyrus, Ricky Skaggs, Patty Loveless, Gov. Bill Haslam, Tanya Tucker, Kix Brooks, Dierks Bentley, Mel Tillis and Pam Tillis were also among those paying their respects.
"He was integral to country music. I've traveled all over and in Japan, and they knew George but didn't know country," Brenda Lee said. "I've lost a great friend, and the world has lost a great artist."
For Barbara Mandrell, "he was always loving and kind, as well as being the most talented singer that ever existed."
Added Larry Gatlin: "About three days ago, someone became the best country singer alive (because we lost George Jones)."