On Sunday (October 22nd), Alan Jackson will become one of the newest members of the Country Music Hall of Fame, along with the late Jerry Reed and songwriter Don Schlitz.
Reed will be inducted in the “Veterans Era Artist” category, while Jackson will be inducted in the “Modern Era Artist” category. Schlitz will be inducted in the “Songwriter” category, which is awarded every third year in rotation with the “Recording and/or Touring Musician Active Prior to 1980” and “Non-Performer” categories. Reed, Jackson, and Schlitz will increase membership in the coveted Country Music Hall of Fame from 130 to 133 members.
Alan said, “For me to say I’m honored sounds like the standard old response, but for a man who loves Country Music there is no higher honor. This is the mountain top!”
“I don’t think I was even that overwhelmed about it until I had the office get me a list of all the members, ’cause I wanted to see,” says Alan. “And then when I started reading down through there, even though I knew pretty much who it was, but still when you see it the whole list is like, ‘Oh my gosh, man, everybody you ever loved is in there.’ So, to be in there with ’em, it’s just amazing. It’s an American dream right there.”
Formal induction ceremonies for Reed, Jackson, and Schlitz will take place at the Country Music Hall of Fame® and Museum in the CMA Theater. Since 2007, the Museum’s Medallion Ceremony, an annual reunion of the Hall of Fame membership, has served as the official rite of induction for new members.
CMA created the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1961 to recognize noteworthy individuals for their outstanding contributions to the format with Country Music’s highest honor.
Modern Era Artist – Alan Jackson
When music historians recount Alan Jackson’s staggering accomplishments, they don’t just limit the comparisons to his Country Music contemporaries. With dozens of chart-topping singles, tens of millions of albums sold, and an unparalleled reputation as a singer and songwriter, he ranks with The Beatles, Elvis Presley, and a very small handful of other transcendent artists who stand out like signposts in pop music history.
By deeply tipping his hat to the honky-tonk legends of his youth and unflinchingly remaining true to himself for more than 25 years, Jackson earned an unparalleled reputation as a singer and songwriter. He blended the old and new in a musical style that is urban and rural, rugged and raw, and appeals to the large sector of the Country Music audience that looks to the past for its musical influences.
Born Alan Eugene Jackson on Oct. 17, 1958, in Newnan, Ga., the 58-year-old singer-songwriter came to personify the neotraditional movement that emerged in opposition to the “Urban Cowboy” trend of the 1980s. Jackson took the sounds of Country Music in his youth and blended them with modern production and band structures in a way that made him an immediate star, one who straddled the divide between pop sensibilities and hard-line affection for classic Country.
Jackson began his career as the lead singer of local Newnan band Dixie Steel, holding down numerous odd jobs while touring and writing songs. His wife, Denise, a flight attendant at the time, had a chance meeting with Glen Campbell. Campbell suggested Alan get in touch with his music publishing company. Within two weeks of the meeting, the Jacksons packed up and moved to Nashville to follow his dreams and Alan eventually signed with the worldwide star’s publishing company.
He honed his craft and was eventually signed by executive Tim DuBois as the flagship artist at Arista Nashville in 1989. Jackson saw almost immediate success with his first album, Here in the Real World. It yielded his first Billboard No. 1 single, “I’d Love You All Over Again,” and made Jackson an instant — and instantly recognizable — star. He was nominated for four awards at the 1990 CMA Awards and, over the course of his career, would become the second most-nominated artist in CMA Awards history with 81 nominations, following only close friend and fellow Hall of Fame member George Strait. He still owns the record for most nominations in a single year with 10, set in 2002, the year he swept Song and Single of the Year with his poignant 9/11 tribute “Where Were You (When the World Stopped Turning).” The track also was nominated for all-genre Song of the Year at the Grammy Awards and won the Best Country Song Award, his first golden gramophone.
Jackson released four studio albums in the first five years of his recording career. Here in the Real World, Don’t Rock the Jukebox, his best-selling A Lot About Livin’ (And a Little ‘Bout Love), and Who I Am sold more than 20 million albums during that period and included some of his most memorable and important tracks, including “Midnight in Montgomery” and “Chattahoochee,” a winner of CMA Single and Song of the Year in 1993-94, respectively.
Jackson has released more than 20 albums and collections — including forays into gospel and bluegrass — nine of which went multiplatinum with 2 million or more in sales. Those albums have led to one of Country Music’s most decorated careers with three CMA Entertainer of the Year Awards (1995, 2002, 2003); two Grammy Awards; and membership in the Grand Ole Opry, the esteemed Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame, and the Georgia Music Hall of Fame. He was given the first ASCAP Heritage Award (2014) by the performance rights organization, recognizing him as the most performed Country Music songwriter-artist of the last 100 years. Jackson has charted more than 30 No. 1 hits, sold nearly 60 million albums, and is among the genre’s most decorated and respected figures, with more than 150 awards.
Veterans Era Artist – Jerry Reed
There was a time when Jerry Reed was the fast-picking, wisecracking face of Country Music for most Americans. Though Reed found himself participating in some key music history moments as a session player and scored his share of chart hits as a performer, it was his good-natured wit and ability to transform into an outsized personality as an actor without losing his authenticity that made him one of the genre’s most well-known ambassadors of the 1970s and ’80s.
It’s that ability as an all-around entertainer that brings Reed to the Country Music Hall of Fame.
Reed’s active career stretched from the 1950s into the 1990s, though he still toured and made public appearances well into the 2000s. His career was so long, he received CMA Awards nominations over the course of four decades — from 1969 to 1999. He was a two-time nominee for CMA Entertainer of the Year and a three-time Grammy winner.
Born Jerry Reed Hubbard on March 20, 1937, in Atlanta, the singer-guitarist had already scored a few minor hits and spent years in the recording studio and onstage by the time he made it to Nashville in 1962 to get into session work after a two-year stint in the U.S. Army. He’d drawn the attention of the industry when two of his songs covered by popular artists became hits: Gene Vincent released his version of “Crazy Legs” in 1958 and Brenda Lee recorded “That’s All You Got to Do” in 1960.
It was Reed’s fiery guitar playing that really turned the heads of some of Nashville’s most important figures as he made the rounds in the early 1960s. A fingerstyle picker with few rivals, Reed was dubbed a “Certified Guitar Player” by Hall of Fame member Chet Atkins, perhaps the most prestigious honorary title given in Country Music. Atkins bestowed the award just four times personally. Earning the CGP status meant Country Music’s acknowledged best guitarist thought you were great in every way. Nashville felt much the same, naming Reed CMA Instrumentalist of the Year twice (1970 and ’71), and giving him a straightforward nickname: “The Guitar Man.” Atkins and Reed were nominated together for CMA Instrumental Group of the Year in the following two years (1972 and ’73).
Reed’s best-known hits included “When You’re Hot, You’re Hot,” which won a Grammy Award (Reed would win two more for instrumental recordings “Me & Jerry” and “Sneakin’ Around,” both made with Atkins), “Guitar Man,” “Amos Moses,” “Alabama Wild Man,” “U.S. Male,” “A Thing Called Love,” and “She Got the Gold Mine (I Got the Shaft).” He got a career boost from Elvis Presley, who not only recorded a few of Reed’s songs, including “Guitar Man,” but also hired him to be his guitar man in the studio as well.
He became a regular presence on “The Glen Campbell Good Time Hour” variety show in 1970. His affable onscreen presence was attractive to Hollywood. He made the first of several appearances with friend Burt Reynolds in a string of movies that started with 1975’s “W.W. and the Dixie Dancekings” and included the three wildly popular “Smokey and the Bandit” films, which launched in 1977 and featured Reed as Reynolds’ straight man. Reed scored a hit with the film’s theme song, “East Bound and Down.” Reed made an unforgettable return to film in 1998 when he played angry Coach Red Beaulieu in Adam Sandler’s “The Waterboy.”
The following year he received his final CMA nomination, for Vocal Event of the Year, for his “Old Dogs” supergroup collaboration with Waylon Jennings, Mel Tillis, and Bobby Bare.
Reed passed away from complications related to emphysema in 2008 at the age of 71.
Songwriter – Don Schlitz
Don Schlitz is among the most influential and beloved songwriters in the history of Country Music. His chart-topping songs – among them “The Gambler,” “On the Other Hand,” “Forever and Ever, Amen,” “He Thinks He’ll Keep Her,” “The Greatest,” and “When You Say Nothing At All” – are touchstones and inspirations that continue to influence songwriters and singers decades after they were written.
His 50 Top 10 singles performed by iconic acts Mary Chapin Carpenter, Alison Krauss, Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Kenny Rogers, The Judds, Randy Travis, Tanya Tucker, Keith Whitley, and many others include 24 No. 1 Country hits. He has won three CMA Song of the Year Awards, two Grammy Awards, and four consecutive ASCAP Country Songwriter of the Year trophies (1988-91).
Schlitz was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Association Hall of Fame in 1993 and the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2012.
Born Donald Alan Schlitz Jr. on Aug. 29, 1952, and raised in Durham, North Carolina, Schlitz briefly attended Duke University before coming to Nashville at age 20. His talent was recognized and fostered early on by greats, including Bob McDill and Bobby Bare, and he emerged as an empathetic and intelligent chronicler of the human spirit.
When Rogers recorded “The Gambler” – the songwriter’s first recorded song – Schlitz’s ascent was assured, and the success of that enduring story-song allowed him the freedom to spend a lifetime writing words and music that articulated the extraordinary emotions inherent in common experience.
Having written hits across five decades, he will join an exclusive circle in the Country Music Hall of Fame that includes Bobby Braddock, Hank Cochran, Harlan Howard, Cindy Walker, and Boudleaux and Felice Bryant, all inducted primarily as songwriters.
Schlitz and his cowriters penned “Rockin’ with the Rhythm of the Rain,” “Forty Hour Week (for a Livin’), “Houston Solution,” “Deeper Than the Holler,” “One Promise Too Late,” “I Feel Lucky,” “Old School,” “Give Me Wings,” “Strong Enough To Bend” and dozens of others that underscore the depth and breadth of modern era Country Music.
One of the first performers at Amy Kurland’s iconic songwriter club The Bluebird Café, Schlitz and friends Thom Schuyler, J. Fred Knobloch, and Paul Overstreet originated the Café’s songwriter in the round format in 1985. He continues to regularly perform his hits and new material at The Bluebird, interspersed with his wry wit and unique comic timing.
The Don Schlitz songbook even includes the 2001 Broadway musical “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.”
Kenny Rogers encapsulated the sentiments of many when inducting Schlitz into the Songwriters Hall of Fame with the statement, “Don doesn’t just write songs, he writes careers.”
Alan Jackson (overwhelmed about HOF) OC: …right there. :19
“Yeah, I don’t think I was even that overwhelmed about it until I had the office get me a list of all the members ’cause I wanted to see. And then when I started reading down through there, even though I knew pretty much who it was, but still when you see it the whole list is like, ‘Oh my gosh, man, everybody you ever loved is in there.’ So, to be in there with ’em, it’s just amazing. It’s an American dream right there.”
Alan Jackson (moments in his career) OC: …write it. :39
“I’ve had such a fantastic life and career, it’s hard for me to even list them all. I mean, I’ve done so much. I’ve played for four presidents, I have played in some of the worst honkytonks you’ve ever seen, I stood on the Grand Ole Opry stage with Roy Acuff looking up at me when I sang ‘Here in the Real World’ for the first time. I sang at George Jones’ funeral – ‘He Stopped Lovin’ Her Today.’ I mean, you can’t imagine that all that could happen to you and all the other stuff that I can’t remember right at this moment. My career has just been hard to, you couldn’t write it. You couldn’t write it.”