– For a guy who sang so many sad songs, George Jones left behind a lot of laughs. There was more humor than sadness at the Thursday funeral for "The Possum" at the Grand Ole Opry House as thousands gathered in Nashville to pay their respects to the man whose voice defined country music for more than 50 years.

Friend after friend related stories of his kindness, his love for his widow, Nancy, who's credited with helping him survive his personal demons later in life, and the funny little moments that will stick with them always.

Barbara Mandrell remembered the kindnesses he gave a scared 13-year-old girl just getting her start in the business. Former First Lady Laura Bush remembered dumping quarter after quarter into the jukebox to hear "The Race Is On."

The nearly three-hour service was attended by an array of country stars and political figures. Nancy Jones sat flanked by Bush and Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood. Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam spoke, as did former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee.

The funeral was broadcast live on cable music television channels CMT and GAC and — in a nod to simpler times when Jones was at his biggest — on all local television networks.

Jones, a native of Beaumont, Texas, was in the midst of a farewell tour that was to have wrapped up with an all-star salute in November in Nashville when he died. He postponed two performances two weeks ago and entered the hospital with a fever and irregular blood pressure. He'd been ill off and on over the previous year.

Prince to play at the Myth on May 25

Prince's spring West Coast tour of clubs and theaters will now bring him to east of the Mississippi River — to the Myth nightclub in Maplewood, for two shows on May 25. He will be performing with his band, 3rdEyeGirl. Tickets for the performances, at 8 and 11:30 p.m., will go on sale Saturday at etix.com, mythlive.com and the Myth box office and will cost $259 a piece. For info, call 651-779-6984. Prince warmed up for his current tour with six shows in January at the Dakota Jazz Club.