Alan Jackson Biography
With a smooth blending of traditional honky tonk and mainstream country, Alan Jackson became an instant sensation after his 1989 debut. Part of the famous “Class of ’89,” Jackson has proven over the last twenty years to be one of country’s most consistent and dominant artists, both in concert and on the charts. With more than a dozen platinum albums under his belt, a truck-load of No. 1 country hits (25 and counting) and enough major awards to warrant an Elvis-sized trophy room, Jackson is a shoe-in for first-ballot induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame.
Origins and Early Musical Successes
Alan Eugene Jackson was born the youngest of five children into a blue-collar family on October 17, 1958 in the small Georgia town of Newnan, which is less than an hour southwest of Atlanta. His father, Joseph, worked as a car mechanic to support his family. Alan would eventually follow in his father’s footsteps by working as a mechanic for a while before music paid the bills. His mother, Ruth, was a homemaker who cared for Jackson and his four older sisters. He attended elementary school and high school in Newnan, and it was while attending Newnan High School that he met his future wife, Denise, at the Dairy Queen where she worked.
Growing up, the Jackson family listened to a lot of gospel music. Alan became of big fan of country music, too, and was especially fond of classic stars like Gene Watson and Hank Williams, Jr. He played in various country bands in Georgia while also working as a mechanic, a car salesman and a forklift operator. During those lean years, he also spent many hours writing songs.
Jackson and the Rhinestone Cowboy
In 1985, Jackson and Denise moved to Nashville so he could pursue his dream of a career in music. He found a job working in the mailroom at the now defunct television network, The Nashville Network (TNN). Alan's first big break came in 1986 when Denise, who was working as a flight attendant, met Glen Campbell in an airport. She gave him a demo tape of her husband's songs, which paved the way for Jackson landing a songwriting job at Campbell’s publishing company.
Jackson Signs with Arista Nashville
In 1989, Jackson became one of the charter members of the renowned “Class of ‘89” when he became the first country artist signed to the Arista Nashville label. The “Class of ‘89” also included Garth Brooks, Travis Tritt, Clint Black and Mary Chapin-Carpenter. Later that year he released his debut single, “Blue Blooded Woman,” which climbed to No. 45 on Billboard’s Country Songs chart. He released his debut album, Here in the Real World, in 1990. Four more singles written or co-written by Jackson were released from the album, including “Here in the Real World” (No. 3), “Wanted” (No. 3), “Chasin’ that Neon Rainbow” (No. 2) and his first No. 1 hit, “I’d Love You All Over Again.” Here in the Real World went on to achieve double-platinum status.
Jackson’s sophomore album, Don’t Rock the Jukebox, did even better, selling four million copies and spawning five top-3 hits, including “Don’t Rock the Jukebox” (No. 1), “Someday” (No. 1), “Dallas” (No. 1), “Midnight in Montgomery” (No. 3) and “Love’s Got a Hold on You” (No. 1). As with his debut album, Jackson wrote or co-wrote most of the songs on the album. He was named the Top New Male Artist in 1990 by the Academy of Country Music (ACM), while Don’t Rock the Jukebox took home the ACM Album of the Year honors and “Don’t Rock the Jukebox” won the ACM Single of the Year award.
The Floodgates Open Wide
The next five years saw Jackson continuing his domination of country music. His next three studio albums, A Lot About Livin’ (and a Little ‘Bout Love), Who Am I and Everything I Love all sold a minimum of three million copies each. When the dust had settled on those three albums plus his first greatest hits collection, he had an additional 18 top ten hits, including ten No. 1’s. Along with staggering album sales, Jackson was also amassing a huge number of major awards, including the first of three Entertainer of the Year awards he would receive from the Country Music Association. He was inducted into the Grand Ole Opry in 1991 by Roy Acuff and Randy Travis.
Jackson married Denise on December 15, 1979. Together they have three daughters: Mattie Denise, Alexandra Jane "Ali" and Dani Grace. In 2009 the Jackson's put their Franklin, TN home on the market for $38 million.
Best Alan Jackson Songs
- “Don’t Rock the Jukebox”
- “Summertime Blues”
- “Gone Country”
- “Tall, Tall Trees”
- “Little Bitty”
Selected Alan Jackson Discography