Alan Eugene Jackson (born October 17, 1958) is an American country singer and songwriter. He is known for blending traditional honky tonk and mainstream country sounds and penning many of his own songs. Jackson has recorded 16 studio albums, three greatest hits albums, two Christmas albums, two gospel albums and several compilations.
Jackson has sold over 80 million records, with 66 titles on the Billboard Hot Country Singles & Tracks chart. Of the 66 titles, and six featured singles, 38 have reached the top five and 35 have claimed the number one spot. Out of 15 titles to reach the Billboard Top Country Albums chart, nine have been certified multi-platinum. He is the recipient of two Grammy Awards, 16 CMA Awards, 17 ACM Awards and nominee of multiple other awards. He is a member of the Grand Ole Opry, and was inducted into the Georgia Music Hall of Fame in 2001. He was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2017 by Loretta Lynn and into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2018.
Jackson was born to Joseph Eugene “Daddy Gene” Jackson (1927–2000) and Ruth Musick “Mama Ruth” Jackson (1930–2017) in Newnan, Georgia, and has four older siblings. He, his father, mother, and sisters lived in a small home built around his grandfather’s old toolshed. The family is primarily of English descent. At one point, his bed was in the hallway for lack of room. His mother lived in the home until she died on January 7, 2017. Jackson sang in church as a child. His first job, at 12, was in a shoe store. He wrote his first song in 1983.
As a youth, Jackson listened primarily to gospel music, but otherwise he was not a major music fan until a friend introduced him to the music of Gene Watson, John Anderson, and Hank Williams Jr. Jackson attended the local Elm Street Elementary and Newnan High School, and started a band after graduation. When he was 27, Jackson and his wife of six years, Denise, moved from Newnan to Nashville, where he hoped to pursue music full-time.
In Tennessee, Jackson got his first job in The Nashville Network’s mailroom. Denise Jackson connected him with Glen Campbell, who helped jumpstart his career. Jackson eventually signed with Arista, and in 1989, he became the first artist signed to the newly formed Arista Nashville branch of Arista Records.
Arista released Jackson’s debut single, “Blue Blooded Woman”, in late 1989. Although the song failed to reach top 40 on Hot Country Songs, he reached number three by early 1990 with “Here in the Real World”. This song served as the title track to his debut album, Here in the Real World, which also included two more top five hits (“Wanted” and “Chasin’ That Neon Rainbow”) and his first number one, “I’d Love You All Over Again”.
Don’t Rock the Jukebox was the title of Jackson’s second album. Released in 1991, it included four number-one singles: the title track, “Someday”, “Dallas” and “Love’s Got a Hold on You”, and the number three “Midnight in Montgomery”. Jackson also co-wrote several songs on Randy Travis’ 1991 album High Lonesome.
A Lot About Livin’ (And a Little ’bout Love), his third album, accounted for the number one hits “She’s Got the Rhythm (And I Got the Blues)” (which Travis co-wrote) and “Chattahoochee”, plus the top five hits “Tonight I Climbed the Wall”, “Mercury Blues” and “(Who Says) You Can’t Have It All”. “Chattahoochee” also won him the 1994 Country Music Association (CMA) awards for Single and Song of the Year.
In 1994 Jackson left his management company, Ten Ten Management, which had overseen his career up to that point, and switched to Gary Overton. His fourth album was titled Who I Am, and it contained four number one hits: a cover of the Eddie Cochran standard “Summertime Blues”, followed by “Livin’ on Love”, “Gone Country” and “I Don’t Even Know Your Name”. An additional track from the album, a cover of Rodney Crowell’s “Song for the Life”, made number six. In late 1994, Clay Walker reached number one with “If I Could Make a Living”, which Jackson co-wrote. Alan also appeared in the 1996 “When Harry Kept Delores” episode of Home Improvement, singing his hit song “Mercury Blues” about his 1950 Mercury.
The Greatest Hits Collection was released on October 24, 1995. The disc contained 17 hits, two newly recorded songs (“I’ll Try” and “Tall, Tall Trees”), and the song “Home” from Here in the Real World that had never been released as a single.These first two songs both made number one.
Everything I Love followed in 1996. Its first single was a cover of Tom T. Hall’s “Little Bitty”, which Jackson took to the top of the charts in late 1996. The album also included the number one hit “There Goes” and a number two cover of Charly McClain’s 1980 single “Who’s Cheatin’ Who”. The album’s fifth single was “A House with No Curtains”, which became his first release since 1989 to miss the top 10.
High Mileage was led off by the number four “I’ll Go On Loving You”. After it came the album’s only number one hit, “Right on the Money”, co-written by Phil Vassar.
With Jackson’s release of Under the Influence in 1999, he took the double risk on an album of covers of country classics while retaining a traditional sound when a rock- and pop-tinged sound dominated country radio.
When the Country Music Association (CMA) asked George Jones to trim his act to 90 seconds for the 1999 CMA awards, Jones decided to boycott the event. In solidarity, Jackson interrupted his own song and launched into Jones’s song “Choices” and then walked offstage. Alan was also known for wearing a mullet since 1989. Before then, he had short hair.
After country music changed toward pop music in the 2000s, he and George Strait criticized the state of country music in the song “Murder on Music Row”. The song sparked debate in the country music community about whether “traditional” country music was actually dead or not. Despite the fact that the song was not officially released as a single, it became the highest-charting nonseasonal album cut (not available in any retail single configuration or released as a promotional single to radio during a chart run) to appear on Hot Country Singles & Tracks in the Broadcast Data Systems era, beating the record previously held by Garth Brooks’ “Belleau Wood.” The duo were invited to open the 2000 Academy of Country Music Awards (ACMAs) with a performance of the tune. Rolling Stone commented on Jackson’s style remarking, “If Garth and Shania have raised the bar for country concerts with Kiss-style production and endless costume changes, then Alan Jackson is doing his best to return the bar to a more human level.” After the September 11, 2001 attacks, Jackson released “Where Were You (When the World Stopped Turning)” as a tribute to those killed in the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The song became a hit single and briefly propelled him into the mainstream spotlight.
At the 2001 CMA Awards, Jackson debuted the song “Where Were You When the World Stopped Turning”. The performance was generally considered the highlight of the show, and Jackson’s site crashed the next day from server requests. The song came to Jackson suddenly, and had not been scheduled for any official release, but the live performance began receiving radio airplay and was soon released as a single.
Jackson released a Christmas album, titled Let It Be Christmas, October 22, 2002. Jeannie Kendall contacted Jackson to do a duet, and he suggested the song “Timeless and True Love”. It appeared on her first solo album, released in 2003.
In early 2006, Jackson released his first gospel music album entitled Precious Memories. He put together the album by the request of his mother, who enjoyed religious music. Jackson considered this album a “side project” and nothing too official, but it was treated as such. More than 1.8 million albums were sold.
Only mere months after the release of Precious Memories in 2006, Jackson released his next album Like Red on a Rose, which featured a more adult contemporary/folk sound. Unlike most of Jackson’s albums, this one earned only a Gold Record, and was criticized as out of character by some fans. Unlike his previous albums, Like Red on a Rose had a different producer and sound. Alan’s main producer for his music, Keith Stegall, was notably absent from this album. Instead, Alison Krauss was hired to produce the album. She also chose the songs. Despite being labeled as “country music” or “bluegrass”, Like Red on a Rose had a mainstream sound to it, upsetting some fans, even making some of them believe that Jackson was abandoning his traditional past and aiming toward a more mainstream jazz/blues sound.
However, for his next album, he went back to his country roots. Good Time was released on March 4, 2008. The album’s first single, “Small Town Southern Man”, was released to radio on November 19. “Country Boy”, “Good Time”, “Sissy’s Song” and the final single from the album, “I Still Like Bologna”, were also released as singles. “Sissy’s Song” is dedicated to a longtime friend of the Jackson family (Leslie “Sissy” Fitzgerald) who worked in their house every day. Fitzgerald was killed in a motorcycle accident in mid-2007.
His sixteenth studio album, Freight Train, was released on March 30, 2010. The first single was “It’s Just That Way”, which debuted at No. 50 in January 2010. “Hard Hat and a Hammer” is the album’s second single, released in May 2010. On November 23, 2010, Jackson released another greatest hits package, entitled 34 Number Ones, which features a cover of the Johnny Cash hit “Ring of Fire”, as well as the duet with Zac Brown Band, “As She’s Walking Away”.
On January 20, 2011, it was announced that Jackson and his record label, Sony, parted ways. On March 23, 2011, Jackson announced his new deal with Capitol’s EMI Records Nashville. It is a joint venture between ACR (Alan’s Country Records) and Capitol. All records will be released and marketed through Capitol’s EMI Records Nashville label.
In 2012, Jackson released the album Thirty Miles West. Three singles have been released from the album, “Long Way to Go”, “So You Don’t Have to Love Me Anymore” and “You Go Your Way”. None of the singles reached the top 20. A tour in 2013 supported the album. Jackson released his second gospel album, Precious Memories Volume II, on March 26, 2013.
In 2014, Jackson recorded the opening credits song, “A Million Ways to Die”, for the film A Million Ways to Die in the West, co-writing the song with the film’s star/writer/director Seth MacFarlane.
In August 2014, the Country Music Hall of Fame opened an exhibit celebrating Jackson’s 25 years in the music industry. It was also announced that he was an artist in residency as well, performing shows on October 8 and 22. The exhibit highlights the different milestones in his career with memorabilia collected over the years. His twenty-fifth anniversary “Keeping It Country” tour, began on January 8, 2015, in Estero, Florida.
In January 2015, Jackson began his 25th anniversary “Keepin’ It Country” tour, followed in April with the announcement of his twentieth studio album, Angels and Alcohol, which was released on July 17.
In 2016, Jackson was selected as one of 30 artists to perform on “Forever Country”, a mash-up track of Take Me Home, Country Roads, On the Road Again and I Will Always Love You which celebrates 50 years of the CMA Awards. In 2016 and 2017, Jackson extended his “Keepin’ It Country” tour with American Idol alumni Lauren Alaina. In August 2016, Legacy Recordings released the collection “Genuine: The Alan Jackson Story” digitally and on three CDs with 59 tracks including eight previously unreleased tracks.
In October 2017, Alan Jackson released a new song titled “The Older I Get” from an upcoming album that was set for release in 2018.