After more than 50 years as one of country music’s most beloved stars, George Jones is stepping away from the microphone. The 80-year-old recently announced he will kick off the Grand Tour next year, which will be his long farewell to adoring fans.

“It is tough to stop doing what I love,” the iconic singer notes, “but the time has come.”

The Possum, who has battled an ongoing respiratory infection, adds that he wants to spend more time with his wife, children and grandchildren.

The Grand Tour will head to more than 60 cities next year, where he will perform several of his classic hits, including “He Stopped Loving Her Today” and “I Don’t Need Your Rockin’ Chair.” In addition, the Texan is expected to perform a few tunes from his upcoming album, which will include songs Dolly Parton is currently penning for her fellow country legend.

George credits his fans with helping him enjoy a career that has spanned most of his adult life. “I would say the secret for my longevity is the fans,” the Grand Ole Opry member told Billboard magazine. “Country music fans are the most loyal fans in the world. They stick by you through thick and thin.”

George still has a calendar full of dates for the remainder of 2012, as well. He will play in Georgia and North Carolina this weekend, followed by shows in Virginia, Massachusetts and Mississippi. See a list of his concert dates here.

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