Alan Jackson was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame on Sunday (October 22nd), alongside the late Jerry Reed and songwriter Don Schlitz.
The iconic Loretta Lynn inducted the Georgia native into the Hall of Fame in what she said was her first outing after she suffered a stroke in May. “I love you and I am so proud of you,” she said. “You deserve to be here.” “Loretta Lynn said I should be here,” Alan said. “That’s all I needed to hear.”
Alan 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.
“I wrote what I knew about, and that was cars,” he says. “My daddy was a mechanic. I grew up in a garage. That’s all I cared about. That’s the reason I came to Nashville to be a singer because I loved cars, and I couldn’t really buy any. [crowd laughs] So, I didn’t have much going on, and I didn’t see much of a future of any direction that would help me buy a lot of cars, and being a singing star looked like the only shot I had.”
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.
During the ceremony, Lee Ann Womack performed his first Top 10 hit “Here in the Real World,” Alison Krauss sang “Someday,” while friend George Strait performed his hit “Remember When.”
As a finale to the entire evening, Alan, Loretta and George, along with Connie Smith sang “Will the Circle Be Unbroken,” which is performed at the end of every Hall of Fame Medallion ceremony.
Late last week before this weekend’s induction, Alan released a new song, “The Older I Get.”
AJ (Hall of Fame induction) 1 OC: …only shot I had. :33
“I wrote what I knew about, and that was cars. My daddy was a mechanic. I grew up in a garage. That’s all I cared about. That’s the reason I came to Nashville to be a singer because I loved cars, and I couldn’t really buy any. [crowd laughs] So, I didn’t have much going on, and I didn’t see much of a future of any direction that would help me buy a lot of cars, and being a singing star looked like the only shot I had.” [crowd laughs]
AJ (Hall of Fame induction) 2 OC: …tell you that. :58
“I came here, I was so ignorant. I didn’t know anything about the business. I thought people you hear on the radio, I thought everybody wrote their own songs. I didn’t know there were songwriters that wrote ‘em for ‘em, so I came here. I didn’t know what producers were or anything, just blind ignorance, came up here and I guess for some reason God gave me a little big of talent to throw some words together and some melodies that have worked over these years. But, I do have some happy songs. [crowd laughs] ‘Chattahoochie,’ ‘Five O’Clock Somewhere,’ ‘Pop a Top,’ I mean I’ve had a lot of ‘em. It makes me so sad and serious, and I’m not that kind of person, not really. But I’ve always said I’ve loved, my favorite songs are the heartbreak songs. I’ve loved writin’ ‘em. I love singin’ ‘em. There’s more emotion in ‘em, and they’re easier to write. I think most songwriters’ll tell you that.”