Member Since 1991
It’s a biographical feature of many a country music star: Bitten by the bug at an early age, often nurtured by a musical family, the budding artist has devoted himself to a musical career almost from the time he can walk. But it’s not part of Alan Jackson’s background. He showed little interest in music until the years following his high school graduation, when he started sitting in with local bands and to try his hand at songwriting after he’d put in eight blue-collar hours driving a forklift, working at a marina, or fixing cars.
Once that interest had been kindled, however, soon Alan decided to devote himself to it wholeheartedly. He moved to Nashville in 1985, where he was signed as a songwriter with Glen Campbell’s music publishing company after a chance meeting in the Atlanta airport between Campbell and Alan’s wife, Denise. But Alan wasn’t content to settle for a songwriting career. In spite of repeated setbacks and disappointments that brought him close to throwing in the towel (every major label in town turned him down, some twice), he persevered until Arista Records signed him in 1989 as its first country act.
Since then, the Georgian has forged a career remarkable for its consistency. He’s recorded 44 Top 10 hits (31 of them chart-toppers), from “Here in the Real World” in 1990 to “Too Much of a Good Thing” in 2004 (the video for which was filmed at the Opry). He’s sold more 43 million records and won dozens of awards, including multiple CMA and ACM honors for Song, Album, Male Vocalist, and Entertainer of the Year as well as a Grammy for his poignant 9/11 rumination “Where Were You (When the World Stopped Turning).”
On record and off, he also has been a rock-steady supporter of traditional country music. He’s maintained a plainspoken style that foregoes the rock-influenced material and stage shows of many of his contemporaries. He’s released an album that pays tribute to his musical influences and recorded pointed commentaries on the state of country music. And when the CMA wouldn’t let George Jones perform more than a snippet of his award-nominated song “Choices” on its 1999 awards show, Alan made his displeasure clear by interpolating a few lines from the song into his scheduled performance. His 2008 release, Good Time, debuted at the top of the Billboard 200 chart and produced three more number one hits, "Small Town Southern Man," "Good Time," and "Country Boy".
Fourteen years earlier—in 1985, the year Alan moved to Nashville—George had sung a song, “Who’s Gonna Fill Their Shoes,” that asked who would take the place of giants such as Haggard, Twitty, and Jones himself. In the time since, Alan Jackson has become the leading exemplar of traditional country, and shown that those shoes fit him to a T.