Skip to main content
Select Source:

Jackson, Alan

Alan Jackson

Singer, songwriter

Traditions are sometimes forgotten in favor of the new and improved. In the early 1980s, the synthesized pop music of the urban cowboy seemed to be eclipsing country music's roots. However, in 1989 a new group of country singer/songwriters, including a tall, white-hatted Georgia boy named Alan Jackson, began to revive the country music tradition. Over the next two decades, Jackson would hit number one on the country music charts some three dozen times and win over 45 awards. But Jackson, who nearly lost his 20-year marriage to his high school sweetheart, Denise, along the way, remained humble, telling twangthis.com that he was "just a guy who sings [and who] hopes I'm keeping a little bit of traditional country music alive for the next generation so they'll know what it is."

Alan Eugene Jackson was born on October 17, 1958, in Newnan, Georgia. His father, Eugene, an auto-worker, and mother, Ruth, a homemaker, married in 1952, raising a family of seven children. While still in high school, Jackson met his future wife, Denise, at a Dairy Queen, and they married in 1979. Soon after, they moved to Nashville so Jackson could pursue a music career. While Denise worked as a flight attendant, Jackson worked odd jobs, including used car salesman and mailman for cable TV's Nashville Network (TNN). During his lunch breaks Jackson would study the types of country music that hit the charts, what fans liked, and what they were buying.

In the early 1980s, country music fans seemed to like and buy the bland "pop-ified" country music of the urban cowboy. As the 1980s urban cowboy fad cooled off, however, according to Ken Kragen, speaking on TNN's The Life and Times of the All-star Class of '89, "Country music started to retrench and almost as a reaction against this popularizing of country music, traditionalists came along." One of these new traditionalists was Alan Jackson. However, it would be Denise, Jackson's wife, not Jackson himself, who found his big break. On an airplane flight, she ran into country superstar Glen Campbell. She told him about Jackson's desire to be a country singer/songwriter and asked Campbell for advice. Campbell gave Denise the name of his company's manager, Marty Gamblin, and told Jackson to call. Soon after, Gamblin hired Jackson to write songs for Glen Campbell Enterprises.

Icing On The Cake

By the late 1980s, a new class of country music superstars—musicians who sounded a lot like country music legends Hank Williams, Merle Haggard and others—began to emerge, led by performer Randy Travis. In 1989, seeing this return to tradition, record labels signed their own "new traditionalists," including Clint Black, Travis Tritt, Vince Gill, Garth Brooks and, on the Arista label, Alan Jackson. In 1990 Jackson saw the release of his first album, Here in the Real World, as well as the birth of his first daughter, Mattie. Here in theReal World produced four number one singles, and Jackson also won two major awards that year: the TNN/Music City News Song of the Year for "Here in the Real World," and the Academy of Country Music (ACM) award for Top New Male Vocalist.

In 1991 Jackson released his second album, Don't Rock the Jukebox. Five songs, four of which Jackson wrote or co-wrote, topped the country music charts. In two of these number one hits, Jackson paid respects to his musical inspirations—Hank Williams and George Jones. "Midnight in Montgomery" honored the legendary country singer/songwriter Williams. In the book Country Music Culture, author Curtis W. Ellison wrote that Jackson paid "homage to George Jones—another Hank Williams admirer—and to honky tonk music, a statement against rock and roll in favor of country music." Jackson won four awards that year, including TNN/Music City News Star of Tomorrow and Album of the Year, and ACM's Country Music Single and Album of the Year.

In 1992 Jackson's success continued with two new albums, Honky Tonk Christmas and A Lot ‘Bout Livin’ (and a Little 'Bout Love), the latter producing five number one hit singles, including "Chattahoochee." Jackson not only won five awards that year, including CMA Music Video of the Year, ASCAP Song of the Year, and TNN/Music City News Male Artist, Single, and Album of the Year, and also welcomed another baby daughter, Alexandra.

In 1994 Jackson released his fifth album, Who I Am. According to Entertainment Weekly music reviewer Alanna Nash, the album seemed to "show him to be more emotionally vulnerable." With hits like "Let's Get Back to Me and You" and "Job Description," Nash felt that "seldom has a star made his life away from home sound so lonely." Thus, for the first time, Jackson seemed to be feeling the pressures of success. He told People magazine that he realized that "all those things that you wanted so bad aren't gonna make you happy or keep you happy." He added that he realized that "my life is really like a fairy tale [and] you gotta be happy with yourself and with your spouse and with your life. All the rest is just icing on the cake." Jackson won ten awards in 1994, including ASCAP Song and Songwriter of the Year, as well as ACM Top Male Vocalist and American Music Awards Favorite Album and Single of the Year.

For the Record …

Born Alan Eugene Jackson on October 17, 1958, in Newnan, GA; son of Eugene (an autoworker) and Ruth Jackson; married Denise, December 15, 1979; children: Mattie, Alexandra, and Dani.

Hired by Glen Campbell Enterprises as a songwriter until signed to Arista Records, 1989; released first album, Here in the Real World, 1990; became member of the Grand Ole Opry, 1991; success continued over the next 18 years with 15 more albums and over 30 number one hits; opened Alan Jackson Showcar Cafe in Pigeon Forge, TN, 1998; released Precious Memories and Like Red on a Rose, 2006; released Good Time, 2008.

Awards: Academy of Country Music (ACM) Top New Male Vocalist, 1990; TNN/Music City News Star of Tomorrow, 1991; ACM Country Music Album of the Year, 1991; Country Music Association (CMA) Music Video of the Year, 1992, and Single of the Year, 1993; ASCAP Songwriter of the Year, 1993, 1994, 1998, 2003; American Music Awards (AMA) Favorite Album, 1994; CMA Entertainer of the Year, 1995, 2001, 2002, 2003; ACM Male Vocalist of the Year, 1995, 1996, 2002; TNN/Music City News Entertainer of the Year, 1996, 1997; CMA Vocal Event of the Year, 2000; CMA Album of the Year, Male Vocalist of the Year, Music Video of the Year, all 2001; CMA Best Male Vocalist and Album of the Year, for Drive, and Single of the Year and Song of the Year, both for "Where Were You (When the World Stopped Turning)," 2002; ACM Song of the Year and Single of the Year, for "Where Were You (When the World Stopped Turning)," 2002; CMA Male Vocalist of the Year and Vocal Event of the Year, for "It's Five O'Clock Somewhere," (with Jimmy Buffet), 2003; Grammy Award for Best Country Song, for "Where Were You (When the World Stopped Turning)," 2003; Grammy Award for Best Country Song, for "It's Five O'clock Somewhere," 2004.

Addresses: Record company—Arista Nashville, 1400 18th Ave. S, Nashville, TN 37212. Web site—Alan Jackson Official Web site: http://www.alanjackson.com.

Separated, Reconciled, and "High Mileage"

Throughout the mid-to-late 1990s, Jackson's star continued to burn brightly. In 1995 he released a Greatest Hits album and won eight major awards, including CMA Entertainer of the Year. In 1996 Jackson released Everything I Love, his first album of all-new material in three years. Country music fans loved what Jackson wrote, and awarded him TNN/Music City News Enter- tainer of the Year in 1996 and 1997. Dani, Jackson's third daughter, was also born in 1997. Thus, Jackson's music career and home life seemed to be on solid ground.

However, in February of 1998, USA Today announced that Jackson and Denise had separated. Jackson told USA Today's Brian Mansfield that "I couldn't be happy. … I worked so hard to get all this stuff to make me happy." He continued, "Then that didn't do it. It actually got worse. This career added other problems to it. I isolated myself more." After months of therapy, Jackson and Denise finally reconciled, and renewed their wedding vows on their nineteenth wedding anniversary. Denise told Life that the separation "forced us to put our attention back on our relationship." Jackson told Life, "I realize what makes you happy: It's having someone to love and someone who loves you."

In September of 1998, Jackson released his eighth album, High Mileage. Life called the album "an ode to marriage," while country.com stated that "the album is Jackson's take on life's latest chapter."

Jackson's ninth album, Under the Influence, appeared in 1999, followed by When Somebody Loves You late in 2000. In 2000 Jackson generated controversy and attracted media attention when he collaborated with George Strait on the song "Murder on Music Row," which bemoaned the commercialization of the country music industry.

Perhaps Jackson's biggest and most poignant hit was "Where Were You (When the World Stopped Turning)." A recollection of the events of September 11, 2001, the song appeared in two forms on Jackson's album Drive, released in 2002. The album included a studio version of the song, as well as a live version recorded at the Country Music Awards just two months after the attacks. The title song for the album was a tribute to Jackson's late father, Eugene, who had recently died.

Recorded Outside the Country Genre

In 2004 Jackson released his fourteenth album, What I Do. Once again, Jackson's heartfelt baritone, combined with his extraordinary ability to write good songs, turned the album into a platinum success. It debuted at the top of the Billboard country and pop album charts and was popular due to its great mix of songs. Jackson recorded love songs like "Too Much of a Good Thing," as well as lighter, funnier songs such as "If French Fries Were Fat Free."

In 2005 Jackson went on tour, accompanied by Sara Evans and a new music duo, The Wrights, which included Jackson's nephew Adam Wright and his wife, Shannon. For all his success, Jackson remained down to earth. "A lot of times when you get to the level I'm at now, [people think you're] this big star and there's something magical about you," he told Billboard's Deborah Evans Price, "but really you are just the same old guy that sang in those bars 20 years ago, doing some of the same songs."

By the mid-2000s, Jackson had reached a level attained by very few other country artists—he could record material that fell outside the genre's normal styles, and his position atop the country charts was not shaken. Jackson's next two albums were unorthodox by any standard. His album Like Red on a Rose, produced by bluegrass vocalist Alison Krauss, was a quiet album of country torch songs whose sparseness set it far apart from the majority of the material heard on country radio. Gary Graff of Billboard called the album "one of the best things Jackson's ever recorded." Sparser still was Precious Memories, an album of traditional hymns recorded by Jackson in 2005 as a Christmas gift to his mother, using just a few quick takes in the studio. Executive Joe Galante persuaded Jackson to turn the album into a commercial release.

Galante's instincts were correct, for Precious Memories topped Billboard's country albums sales chart. The magazine also named it the most successful Christian album of 2006. Like Red on a Rose also topped the album chart despite the lack of a top-ten single. The following year, Jackson, George Strait, and Jimmy Buffett released Live at Texas Stadium, recorded during a 2004 concert.

Jackson seemingly returned to a more conventional sound with his 2008 release Good Time, and he wrote all 17 of the album's songs. Good Time got off to a good start when its leadoff single, "Small Town Southern Man," topped Billboard's country singles chart. The song drew heavily on Jackson's reminiscences of his own father, and as he approached his third decade at the top of the charts Alan Jackson still maintained a down-to-earth approach to his art—one that would never grow old in the field of country music.

Selected discography

Here in the Real World, Arista Records, 1990.

Don't Rock the Jukebox, Arista Records, 1991.

Honky Tonk Christmas, Arista Records, 1992.

A Lot ‘Bout Livin’ (and a Little 'Bout Love), Arista Records, 1992.

Who I Am, Arista Records, 1994.

Greatest Hits, Arista Records, 1995.

Everything I Love, Arista Records, 1996.

High Mileage, Arista Records, 1998.

Under the Influence, Arista/Nashville, 1999.

When Somebody Loves You, Arista/Nashville, 2000.

Drive, Arista/Nashville, 2002.

Let it be Christmas, Arista/Nashville, 2002.

Greatest Hits, Arista/Nashville, 2003.

What I Do, Arista/Nashville, 2004.

Very Best Of, Arista/Nashville, 2004.

Precious Memories, Arista, 2006.

Like Red on a Rose, Arista, 2006

(With George Strait and Jimmy Buffett) Live at Texas Stadium, MCA Nashville, 2007.

Good Time, Arista, 2008.

Sources

Books

Ellison, Curtis, Country Music Culture: From Hard Times to Heaven, University Press Of Mississippi, 1995.

Periodicals

Billboard, November 13, 1999; May 6, 2000; September 18, 2004; September 30, 2006, p. 47; December 23, 2006, p. YE-24.

Chicago Sun-Times, September 21, 1998.

Entertainment Weekly, July 7, 1998.

Good Housekeeping, June 1995.

Life, February 1999.

People, Special Issue, 1994; September 20, 2004; Fall 2007 (special issue), p. 30; March 17, 2008, p. 133.

USA Today, February 20, 1998; September 1, 1998.

Online

"Alan Jackson," All Music Guide,http://www.allmusic.com (June 29, 2008).

"Alan Jackson," County Music Television,http://www.cmt.com/artists/az/jackson_alan/bio.jhtml (August 14, 2008).

"Alan Jackson," twangthis.com, http://twangthis.com/ (1999).

Alan Jackson Official Web site, http://www.alanjackson.com/bio/index.php (August 14, 2008).

Additional information for this essay was provided by The Life and Times of the All-Star Class of '89, a TNN special program broadcast January 25, 1999; and from liner notes to Alan Jackson's albums.

—Ann M. Schwalboski and James M. Manheim

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Jackson, Alan." Contemporary Musicians. . Encyclopedia.com. 20 Sep. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Jackson, Alan." Contemporary Musicians. . Encyclopedia.com. (September 20, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/jackson-alan-1

"Jackson, Alan." Contemporary Musicians. . Retrieved September 20, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/jackson-alan-1

Jackson, Alan

Alan Jackson

Singer, songwriter

For the Record

Icing On The Cake

Separated, Reconciled, and High Mileage

Selected discography

Sources

Traditions are sometimes forgotten in favor of the new and improved. In the early 1980s, the weeds of a fadthe synthesized pop music of the urban cowboy, had trampled country musics roots. However, in 1989 a new group of country singer/songwriters including a tall, white-hatted Georgia boy, Alan Jackson, tore out those weeds and planted a new tradition. Over the next ten years, Jackson would hit number one on the country music charts over 20 times and win over 45 awards, nearly losing his twenty-year marriage to his high school sweetheart, Denise along the way. However, Jackson remained humble, telling twangthis.com that he was just a guy who sings [and who] hopes Im keeping a little bit of traditional country music alive for the next generation so theyll know what it is.

Alan Eugene Jackson was born on October 17, 1958 in Newnan, Georgia. His father, Eugene, an autoworker, and mother, Ruth, a homemaker married in 1952 and moved into Eugenes dads 12 foot by 12 foot tool shed. As their family expanded to sevenAlan and his sisters Diane, Connie, and twins Cathy and Carolso did the tool shed. While still in high school, Jackson met his future wife, Denise at a Dairy Queen. He married his sweetheart in 1979. Soon after, they moved to Nashville so Jackson could pursue his music career. While Denise worked as a flight attendant, Jackson worked odd jobs including used car salesman and mailman for cable TVs The Nashville Network (TNN). During his lunch breaks Jackson would study what type of country music hit the charts, what fans liked and what they were buying.

In the early 1980s, country music fans seemed to like and buy the bland, pop-ified country music of the urban cowboy while everyone else seemed to be riding bucking broncos in bars, wearing cowboy boots, hats, and tight blue jeans. Country music, according to Country Weekly reporter Gerry Wood, got very plasticized strings everywhere. traditional roots were just getting ground under like plowed ground. As the 1980s urban cowboy fad cooled off, as stated by Ken Kragen on TNNs The Life and Times of the All-star Class of 89, country music started to retrench and almost as a reaction against this popularizing of country music, traditionalists came along. One of these new traditionalists was Alan Jackson. However, it would be Denise, Jacksons wife, not Jackson himself who found his big break. On one of Denises flights, she ran into country superstar Glen Campbell. She told him about Jacksons desire to be a country singer/songwriter and asked Campbell for advice. Campbell gave Denise the name of his companys manager, Marty Gamblin, and told Jackson to call. Soon after, Gamblin hired Jackson to write songs for Glen Campbell Enterprises. Thus, a

For the Record

Born Alan Eugene Jackson on October 17, 1958 in Newnan, GA; son of Eugene (an auto worker) and Ruth Jackson; sisters: Diane, Connie, and twins Cathy and Carol; married Denise, December 15, 1979; children: Mattie (born June 19, 1990), Alexandra (born August 23, 1993) and Dani (born August 28, 1993).

Grew up in a 12 by 12 tool shed; hired by Glen Campbell Enterprises as a songwriter until he signed to Arista Records in 1989; released first album Here in the Real World; 1990, the title song becomes number one hit; became member of the Grand Ole Opry, 1991; success continued over the next 10 years with eight more albums which included a total of over twenty number one hits such as Midnight in Montgomery, Chattahoochee, Little Bitty, and Ill Go on Loving You; opened the Alan Jackson Showcar Cafè in Pigeon Forge, TN, 1998.

Awards: Academy of Country Music (ACM) Top New Male Vocalist, 1990; TNN/Music City News Star of Tomorrow, 1991; ACM Country Music Album of the Year, 1991; Country Music Association (CMA) Music Video of the Year, 1992; CMA Single of the Year, 1993; ASCAP Songwriter of the Year, 1993, 1994, 1998; American Music Awards (AMA) Favorite Album, 1994; CMA Entertainer of the Year, 1995; ACM Male Vocalist of the Year, 1995, 1996, TNN/Music City News Entertainer of the Year, 1996, 1997.

Addresses: HomeNashville, TN. Fan Club P.O. Box 121945, Nashville, TN. Web site ajackson.com.

chance meeting on an airplane had started Jacksons career.

Icing On The Cake

By the late 1980s, country music fans had had enough of the synthesized pop that was passing for country music. A new class of country music superstarsmusicians who sounded a lot like country music legends Hank Williams, Faron Young, Merle Haggard, and George Jonesemerged, led by Randy Travis. In 1989, seeing this return to tradition, record labels signed their own new traditionalists including Clint Black, Travis Tritt, Vince Gill, Garth Brooks, and Alan Jackson. In 1990, along with the birth of his first daughter, Mattie, Jacksons first album, Here in the Real World was released on Arista Records. Here in the Real World produced four number one singles including the title track, Wanted, Chasin That Neon Rainbow, and Id Love You All Over Again. Jackson also won two major awards that year: TNN/Music City News Song of the Year for Here in the Real World, and the Academy of Country Music (ACM) for Top New Male Vocalist. In 1991, Jackson released his second album, Dont Rock the Jukebox. Five songs, four of which Jackson wrote or co-wrote, topped the country music charts: Someday, Dallas, Loves Got a Hold on You, Midnight in Montgomery, and the title track. In two of these number one hits, Jackson paid respect to his musical inspirationsHank Williams and George Jones. Midnight in Montgomery honors the legendary country singer/songwriter Williams. In Dont Rock the Jukebox, Jackson wrote what Country Music Cultures Curtis W. Ellison called, a homage to George Jonesanother Hank Williams admirerand to honky tonk music, a statement against rock and roll in favor of country music. Jackson won four awards that year including TNN/Music City News Star of Tomorrow and Album of the Year, and ACMs Country Music Single and Album of the Year.

In 1992, Jacksons success continued with two new albums: Honky Tonk Christmas and A Lot Bout Livin (and a Little Bout Love), the latter producing five number one hit singles including Chattahoochee. Jackson not only won five awards that year including CMA Music Video of the Year, ASCAP Song of the Year, and TNN/Music City News Male Artist, Single, and Album of the Year, but also welcomed another baby daughter, Alexandra.

In 1994, Jacksons fifth album, Who I Am was released. This album, according to Entertainment Weekly music reviewer Alanna Nash, seemed to show him to be more emotionally vulnerable. With hits like Lets Get Back to Me and You and Job Description, Nash believed that seldom has a star made his life away from home sound so lonely. Thus, for the first time, Jackson seemed to be feeling the pressures of success. Jackson told People magazine that [My career] is like a movie or something [and my home] is more like the real world for me, in the woods with my family. He further commented that [he was] realizing that all those things that you wanted so bad arent gonna make you happy or keep you happy. In the same vein, Jackson told People that he realized that my life is really like a fairy tale [and] you gotta be happy with yourself and with your spouse and with your life. All the rest is just icing on the cake. Jackson won 10 awards in 1994 including ASCAP Song and Songwriter of the Year as well as ACM Top Male Vocalist and American Music Awards Favorite Album and Single of the Year.

Separated, Reconciled, and High Mileage

Throughout the mid-to-late 1990s, Jacksons star continued to burn brightly. In 1995, Jackson released his Greatest Hits album and won eight major awards including CMA Entertainer of the Year. In 1996 Jackson released his seventh album, Everything I Love, his first album of all new material in three years. This album included the number one single Little Bitty, written by songwriting great Tom T. Hall, which told people to enjoy life because it goes on only for a little bitty while. Speaking on his approach to music, Jackson told twangthis.com that I just try to have fun with it and pick songs and write songs that I like. I dont really worry about whats going to happen to it commercially. Country music fans loved what Jackson liked and awarded him TNN/Music City News Entertainer of the Year in 1996 and 1997. Dani, Jacksons third daughter was also born in 1997. Thus, Jacksons music career and home life seemed to be on a solid ground, however, what Jackson loved mosthis familywas crumbling.

In February 1998, USA Today announced that Jackson and Denise had separated. Jackson told USA Todays Brian Mansfield that what was happening was, I couldnt be happy. I kept trying to let everything else make me happy. Maybe thats why Im successful. I worked so hard to get all this stuff to make me happy. Jackson continued, Then that didnt do it. It actually got worse. This career added other problems to it. I isolated myself more. After months of therapy, Jackson and Denise reconciled and renewed their wedding vows on December 15, theirnineteenth wedding anniversary. Denise told Life that I see that separation as a gift. It forced us to put our attention back on our relationship. Jackson told Life that I realize what makes you happy: Its having someone to love and someone who loves you.

In September 1998, Jackson released his eighth album, High Mileage. Life called this album, an ode to marriage while country.com stated that the album is Jacksons take on lifes latest chapter both the home runs and the curve balls as it came rushing to him. High Mileages first single, Ill Go On Loving You, written by Kieran Kane, is sure to set tongues wagging, Mansfield said, because, [it] is a markedly different sound for Jackson [who] recites much of the songs intimate lyrics in which the singer watches his lover step out of her dress, yet speaks of a love that will last after the passing pleasures of the flesh. After 10 years in country music, which Chicago Sun-Times reporter Dave Hoekstra described as, like a new snakeskin boot. You have to grow into it, Jackson had not only grown a successful music career that helped revive traditional country music, but had grown into a happy man, as well. As he told People, You can have everything, but if you aint got nobody to enjoy it with, it aint no fun.

Selected discography

Here in the Real World, Arista Records, 1990.

Dont Rock the Jukebox, Arista Records, 1991.

Honky Tonk Christmas, Arista Records, 1992.

A Lot Bout Livin (and a Little Bout Love), Arista Records, 1992.

Who I Am, Arista Records, 1994.

Greatest Hits, Arista Records, 1995.

Everything I Love, Arista Records, 1996.

High Mileage, Arista Records, 1998.

Sources

Books

Ellison, Curtis, Country Music Culture: From Hard Times to Heaven, University Press Of Mississippi, 1995.

Periodicals

Chicago Sun-Times, September 21, 1998.

Entertainment Weekly, July 7, 1998.

Good Housekeeping, June 1995.

Life, February 1999.

People, Special Issue, 1994.

USA Today, February 20, 1998; September 1, 1998.

Online

twangthis.com

country.com

geocities.com

ajackson.com

Additional information provided by The Life and Times of the All-Star Class of 89, a TNN special program broadcast January 25, 1999, and from liner notes from Alan Jacksons albums.

Ann M. Schwalboski

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Jackson, Alan." Contemporary Musicians. . Encyclopedia.com. 20 Sep. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Jackson, Alan." Contemporary Musicians. . Encyclopedia.com. (September 20, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/jackson-alan-0

"Jackson, Alan." Contemporary Musicians. . Retrieved September 20, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/jackson-alan-0

Jackson, Alan

Alan Jackson

Singer, songwriter

Blue-Collar Roots

Not Just Another Heartthrob

A Proponent of Real Country

Selected discography

Sources

Billed in 1990 as country musics new heartthroba title that aptly describes the tall, blonde GeorgianAlan Jackson burst on the Nashville scene with his first album, Here in the Real World. The former construction worker and mail room clerk quickly found himself playing before crowds of 40,000 adoring fans. As Laurie Werner observed in a 1990 USA Weekend article, Jacksons overnight success is due partly to Jackson himself, partly to his throwback musical style, partly to the accelerated new pop-style dynamics of country music. Jacksons a guy you could swoon over and bring home to Mom. In this tele-prompted age, a look like that in a music video or on an album cover can really move the merchandise.

Werner, however, may be stretching the point a bit; many up-and-coming Nashville stars are handsome, but it is unlikely that good looks alone would prompt the sale of almost a million copies of an album. Jacksons work, in fact, has been hailed as a refreshing dose of pure country, more traditional in theme and melody than many of the honky-tonkers of his time. His sinewy baritone voice masks little of his Georgia accent, and his favorite lyricsextolling home, family, and marriageare the very staples of country fare. Even with the spotlight on him, Jackson remains true to his smalltown roots, and the result is a genuine, sincere country sound.

Blue-Collar Roots

Alan Eugene Jackson was born in 1958 and raised in Newnan, Georgia, a town south of Atlanta. The youngest child and only boy in his family, Jackson had a very happy childhood even though money was scarce. From his mother he inherited a love of country and gospel music, while his father taught him how to repair and refurbish cars, a hobby he still enjoys. Growing up in Newnan, Jackson gave little thought to a career in music. He knew no one who had ever considered becoming a singer, and none of his family members were particularly musical. He seemed destined to settle in Newnan for life, especially after he married his high school sweetheart when he was 20 years old.

From the age of 12 Jackson held odd jobs, using his earnings to buy and restore old cars. While in his twenties he worked as a mechanic and a builder, but he gradually became bored by such jobs. He was inspired to try his luck in music by a friend who became an airline pilot, which was a pretty big job to hope for in our little ol town, Jackson mused in Country Music. But four or five years later, [my friend] ended up as a pilot for a major carrier, making big money. That really made me

For the Record

Born Alan Eugene Jackson, October 17, 1958, in Newnan, GA; son of Eugene (a mechanic) and Mattie (a home-maker) Jackson; married; wifes name, Denise; children: Mattie Denise. Education: Attended South Georgia College.

Country singer and songwriter, 1985. Worked variously as a car salesman, shoe salesman, construction worker, forklift operator, and as a mail room clerk at The Nashville Network (TNN), Nashville, TN. Signed with Arista Records, 1989, released first album, Here in the Real World, 1990. Has appeared on television programs, including Grand Ole Opry, Hee Haw, and New West.

Awards: Top New Male Artist of the Year award, Academy of Country Music, Horizon Award and Best Male Vocalist of the Year award, Country Music Association, Star of Tomorrow award, TNN/Music City News, Best New Artist of 1990, R&R magazine, and American Music Award nomination, all 1990.

Addresses: Record company Arista Records, 6 West 57th St., New York, NY 10019.

look at my own life and decide that I needed to get on up to Nashville and try and do what I really wanted to do. But it was still a big jump for me, because Id lived in that little town all my life and had never really traveled much. Just moving away from family was a big step. Despite such reservations, Jackson, who had performed with a band locally for years, moved with his wife to Nashville in 1985.

Not Just Another Heartthrob

By that time Jackson had written a number of songs, most of them composed during a summer when his wife was away, working in North Carolina. Upon arriving in Nashville, he took a job in the mail room of The Nashville Network (TNN) and spent all of his spare time singing and trying to sell his songs. One day his wife, who was working as a flight attendant, ran into singer Glen Campbell in the airport at Atlanta. She asked Campbell for some musical advice on Jacksons behalf, and Campbell gave her his business card. Jackson subsequently took his songs to Glen Campbell Music and was given a publishing contract. That contract led to better bookings as well as a manager for the would-be star.

Jackson was one of the first artists signed at the Nashville office of Arista Records, which opened in the late 1980s. Known in the pop music business for recruiting young, attractive artists, Arista brought the same philosophy to its country division. Jackson fit the bill perfectly, and the fact that he wrote many of his own lyrics was an additional point in his favor. With Arista, he released his first album, Here in the Real World, early in 1990. The albums debut single was Blue-Blooded Woman and it went to Number One on the country charts in the summer of 1990. Subsequent Number One hits from Here in the Real World include Wanted (One Good-Hearted Woman), a spoken-sung love ballad, the up-tempo Chasin That Neon Rainbow, and the albums title cut.

It wasnt long before Jackson and his band had left behind their beat-up van and were touring in a plush bus, with technicians and security guards. The latter became necessary when an exuberant female fan literally tackled Jackson, knocking him off his feet. The singer spent much of the summer of 1990 opening for other country acts, but as he gained popularity he became a headliner in his own right, drawing impressive crowds in the southern and western United States. He was nominated for four Country Music Association awards late in 1990, including the coveted Horizon Award and Best Male Vocalist of the Year Award, and received the Top New Male Artist of the Year Award from the Academy of Country Music.

I really didnt expect things to take off as fast as they did, Jackson reflected in Country Music. Sometimes the whole thing just doesnt quite grab me. But then all of a sudden, Ill just be sittin somewhere and itll kinda sneak up on me, and Ill realize just how lucky I am.

A Proponent of Real Country

With the 1991 Arista release of Jacksons second album, Dont Rock the Jukebox, the singer earned further praise. The LP displays the influence of George Jones, Jacksons protege who also lends vocals to the single Just Playin Possum. Reviewer Rich Kienzle declared in Country Music that with Dont Rock the Jukebox Jackson has matured, setting a standard many of his contemporaries could emulate and a few of the old hands whove been off their game recently ought to remember. In addition, Lisa Shea writing in People found that the singer has a knack for making middle-of-the-country-road music that never sounds self-satisfied or slick.

Jackson has also made music videos along with his albums, and the winsome performer has become one of the most requested acts on TNN. Opinions vary widely on Jacksons ability to maintain his popularity in the competitive Nashville music industry. If he does succeed in establishing himself as a major star, it will certainly be on the strength of his songwriting and vocal delivery, not on his handsome appearance. Jacksons traditional songs, with their simple melodies and heartfelt lyrics, have been judged engaging enough in their own right to assure him an audience among those who love real country.

The successful singer, who has not forgotten his blue-collar past, is at his best when singing about his own down-home roots, Cynthia Sanz noted in People. Describing himself to Sanz as just a simple guy, Jackson told Werner in USA Weekend that he has enjoyed every minute of his success: I caught up to all my goals so fast that I havent had a chance to make new ones. I even got on the [television programs] Grand Ole Opry and Hee Haw. When I was growing up, I thought that if you could be on Hee Haw, youd made it. So I thought, Boy, here I am on Hee Haw, in the cornfield. I guess I really have made it.

Selected discography

Here in the Real World (includes Here in the Real World, Blue-Blooded Woman, Wanted (One Good-Hearted Woman), and Chasin That Neon Rainbow,), Arista, 1990.

Dont Rock the Jukebox, Arista, 1991.

Sources

Country Music, July/August 1990; September/October 1990; July/August 1991; September/October 1991.

People, May 21, 1990; August 5, 1991; September 2, 1991.

USA Weekend, October 5-7, 1990.

Anne Janette Johnson

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Jackson, Alan." Contemporary Musicians. . Encyclopedia.com. 20 Sep. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Jackson, Alan." Contemporary Musicians. . Encyclopedia.com. (September 20, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/jackson-alan

"Jackson, Alan." Contemporary Musicians. . Retrieved September 20, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/jackson-alan

Jackson, Alan

ALAN JACKSON

Born: Newnan, Georgia, 17 October 1958

Genre: Country

Best-selling album since 1990: Drive (2002)

Hit songs since 1990: "Here in the Real World," "Chattahoochee," "Little Bitty"


The music writer Alanna Nash has called Alan Jackson "the last of Nashville's pure traditionalists." Unlike contemporary country performers such as Tim McGraw and Faith Hill, whose styles often resemble pop music, Jackson harks back to the country feel of the 1950s and 1960s, mining traditional country themes of heartbreak and loneliness. With basic instrumentation of guitar, piano, and fiddles, Jackson pays tribute to older, hard-living country singers such as George Jones and Merle Haggard. Jackson's voice, although less distinctive than the keening tones of those performers, is flexible and warm, an ideal vehicle for the sensitive songs he writes.

Jackson's modest early life and long struggle to the top are the stuff of country legend. One of five children born to an auto-mechanic father in the small Georgia town of Newnan, Jackson spent his childhood singing gospel music in church and listening to the music of his idol, Hank Williams. As an adult, Jackson worked as a forklift operator, car salesman, construction worker, and, after his move to Nashville with wife Denise in 1985, mail sorter at the cable network TNN, all the while honing his singing and songwriting.

A chance meeting at an airport between Denise, a flight attendant, and the veteran country singer Glen Campbell led to Jackson's official introduction to the music business. Although signed with Campbell's management company, Jackson was rejected by one record label after another during the latter part of the 1980s. Many Nashville executives felt the mild-mannered singer lacked star quality and stage presence. Fortunately, Arista Records, a label known mostly for its pop and rhythm and blues artists, announced in 1989 its intention to open a Nashville office and subsequently signed Jackson as its first country artist. The next year Jackson released his debut album, Here in the Real World, and became a hot commodity with the title track, a melodic ballad built around the theme of romantic fantasy in movies versus the hard reality of love "in the real world." Although the song features strong lyrics and melody, its most memorable aspect is Jackson himself. Virile but gentle, his voice carries an emotional authority that draws listeners into the lovelorn story.

Jackson's third album, A Lot about Livin' (And a Little 'bout Love) (1992), is one of his finest works. Adhering to the short Nashville format of ten songs per disc, Jackson fills the album with nothing but first-rate material, most of which he wrote himself. "Chattahoochee," one of the album's six hit singles, is a charming up-tempo number featuring a loping rhythm that suggests the Cajun style of Louisiana dance music. On the lovelorn ballad, "(Who Says) You Can't Have It All," Jackson proves himself a master of lyrical irony, a country music hallmark. On the line, "I'm lord and master of a fool's Taj Mahal," he achieves the careful balance between humor and self-pity that marked the work of Jackson's forebears Jones and Haggard. Adding to the dramatic atmosphere is the heavy, supple piano playing of Hargus "Pig" Robbins, whose flowery style was featured on numerous country records of the 1960s and 1970s. The album's song titles"She's Got the Rhythm (And I Got the Blues)" and "Up to My Ears in Tears"sum up Jackson's woebegone but lighthearted persona.

Jackson went on to release five more albums during the decade, each containing multiple country hits. During an era in which country artists such as Garth Brooks incorporated rock elements into their repertoire, Jackson's consistency and adherence to country formula were unique. His down-home image also stayed the same. Tall, wearing tight blue jeans and a cowboy hat that partially covered his long, blond hair, Jackson came off as a self-effacing hunk, a family man with sex appeal.

Behind the scenes, however, stardom was taking a toll on his marriage, forcing a temporary separation from wife Denise in 1998. The pair later reconciled, and Jackson's stance on his life and music remained humble. In 1997 he told a reporter, "I listen to my records and don't know why they're so popular." A decade into his recording career his homespun message was evident in the lyrics to his 2001 hit "Where I Come From": "Where I come from, it's corn-bread and chicken / Where I come from a lot of front porch sittin'." Beneath Jackson's simple persona, however, lay a sophisticated musician with a sharp intellect.

As it turned out, Jackson's biggest fame was still ahead of him. During late 2001, in the wake of the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, he wrote "Where Were You (When the World Stopped Turning)," a song that summed up what many Americans were feeling on that frightening day. Against a sparse, restrained musical arrangement, Jackson considers the range of reactions to the horror: "Did you shout out in anger and fear for your neighbor / Or did you just sit down and cry." Written quickly during the middle of the night, the song comes across as an artist's attempt to grasp the extent of human cruelty rather than a commercialized exploitation of tragedy. The single proved enormously popular, pushing the album that contained it, Drive (2002), to the number one position on the pop album charts. Despite his new stature as pop star, Jackson remained true to his country roots. Reviewing a 2002 concert performance, a critic for The Louisville Courier-Journal called him "one of the few superstars in country music to actually sing country music."

Alan Jackson's success proves that, no matter how much modern country music embraces pop, older, more traditional approaches to country still find an audience. Although gentler in image than the hell-raising singers of the past, Jackson conveys emotional resonance through music that is humorous, probing, and likable.

SELECTIVE DISCOGRAPHY:

Here in the Real World (Arista, 1990); A Lot About Livin' (And a Little 'Bout Love) (Arista, 1992); Who I Am (Arista, 1994); Everything I Love (Arista, 1996); When Somebody Loves You (Arista, 2000); Drive (Arista, 2002).

WEBSITE:

www.alanjackson.com.

david freeland

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Jackson, Alan." Baker's Biographical Dictionary of Popular Musicians Since 1990. . Encyclopedia.com. 20 Sep. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Jackson, Alan." Baker's Biographical Dictionary of Popular Musicians Since 1990. . Encyclopedia.com. (September 20, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/jackson-alan

"Jackson, Alan." Baker's Biographical Dictionary of Popular Musicians Since 1990. . Retrieved September 20, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/jackson-alan