The singer of seminal honky-tonk weepy "He Stopped Loving Her Today" is in critical, but stable, condition following a one-car crash Saturday near his Tennessee home.
"He still has a life-threatening injury," a spokesman at Nashville's Vanderbilt University Medical Center said today. "But everyone is encouraged by how well he has done..."
Jones, 67, suffered a deep cut to the liver and a punctured lung in the accident. The liver injury was the potential killer.
Based on an early scan of his medical records, Vanderbilt's Dr. Virginia Eddy told reporters, "It looked to me like he was on death's door."
But bleeding from the liver stopped. As long as that continues, Jones' chances for recovery are good, the doctor said.
"The liver heals itself very well, and his injuries are of the type that I really would expect to heal just fine without any surgery," Eddy said.
If Jones' organs are demonstrating remarkable resiliency, maybe it's because they've been brought up the hard way. At one time, Jones was a notorious boozer and drug addict. So flaky was his reputation for live shows and recording sessions in the 1970s, he became known as "No Show Jones."
He since has cleaned up his act and officials say alcohol was not a factor in Saturday's mishap, which occurred when Jones lost control of his Lexus sports-utility vehicle and ran into a bridge.
The entertainer was talking on a cel phone to stepdaughter Adina Estes at the moment of impact.
"He was calling to say he's almost home, and [Estes] heard the crash and everything," a spokeswoman for Jones' Asylum Records label said.
Jones was not wearing a seat belt. It took rescue workers two hours to free him from the wreck.
From 1969-1975, Jones was married to "Stand By Your Man" promoter Tammy Wynette. Together, they were known as "The King and Queen of Country Music." Wynette died last year.
Jones' other hits include "She Thinks I Still Care," "Why Baby Why" and "A Good Year for the Roses."