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Jackson was born to Joseph Eugene Jackson (Daddy Gene) and Ruth Musick (Mama Ruth) in Newnan, Georgia, and has four older siblings. He, his father, mother, and four siblings lived in a small home. At one point, his bed was in the hallway for lack of room. His mother lives in the home to this day. 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. Otherwise he was not a major music fan. Then 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. He started a band after high school. At age 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 a job in The Nashville Network's mailroom. Denise Jackson connected him with Glen Campbell, who helped jumpstart his career. Jackson eventually signed with Arista. By 1989, he became the first signee 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' 1992 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 on an episode of Home Improvement, singing his hit song Mercury Blues in 1996, appearing on Tool Time to sing 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.
After country music changed toward pop music in the 2000s, he and George Strait criticized the state of country music on the song "Murder on Music Row". The song sparked debate in the country music community about whether or not "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.
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 enjoys religious music. Jackson considered this album a "side project" and nothing too official, but it was treated as such. Over 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 album, 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 Krausswas 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", "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 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.
Jackson released his second gospel album, Precious Memories Volume II, on March 26, 2013. A tour in 2013 will follow in support of his latest studio album, Thirty Miles West.
Growing up in rural Lyons, Georgia, singer/songwriter Craig Campbell learned one important lesson from the ZZ Top records his mother favored: “Every girl’s crazy ’bout a sharp-dressed man.”
That’s one reason Campbell is always impeccably well-tailored on stage, and at industry awards shows and events. But he says there’s an even more important reason: respect. For Campbell, caring enough to wear a pressed, button-down shirt and black cowboy hat when he performs is a show of respect for his fans, for the successful career he considers himself lucky enough to have, and most of all for the country music genre itself. It’s also a credit to his no nonsense, “yes, m’am/no, sir” upbringing, which made Campbell into the Southern gentleman he is today.
That respect is amply evident on Campbell’s new EP, “Outta My Head,” a five song set that solidifies Campbell’s standing as country music’s hippest neo-traditionalist, a niche he’d already begun to carve out with his critically-acclaimed, self-titled 2011 debut album. The EP offers fans an impressive taste of the sophomore album he’s working on with producers Keith and Matt Rovey, was released in early 2013, which includes tracks penned by Campbell as well as some of Nashville’s other elite songwriters.
The EP, which includes two songs co-written by Campbell, offers something for everyone along those lines. The mesmerizing and catchy title song and first single, “Outta My Head,” tells the tale of a man trying to shake off the memory of a lost love. Just as the singer attempts to forget a woman from his recent past, the up-tempo song similarly defies any attempt by listeners to get it out of their heads after hearing it.
The hilarious “My Baby’s Daddy” puts a fresh twist on the theme of an overprotective father keeping a wary eye on his daughter’s would-be husband. Instead of telling that story from the father’s perspective, it’s the scared suitor who shares his story here, via Campbell’s rich baritone.
“That’s Why God Made A Front Porch” offers a relaxed vibe in an ode to slowing down and powering down for a little while. The romantic “Keep Them Kisses Comin’” sets an amorous tone, while poignant set closer “When She Grows Up” follows that romantic relationship to the next step of marriage and family, and sends a relatable message to dads raising those young daughters who think they hung the moon. Campbell was thinking of his own two girls, ages 2 and 4, when he wrote the song, which features some brief but adorable vocals from his eldest, Preslee.
“Even before it was on an album, I could sing that song in concert and look out and see at least one or two grown men crying,” says Campbell of the touching song.
Campbell says his goal in choosing songs for this project was a simple one. “I want people to know that’s really who I am, and I’m not faking it,” he says of his music. “It’s the real deal,” adds the singer who got his start playing music and winning talent competitions in his hometown, which has a population of just 4,000 people.
Georgians like Campbell are dominating the country music scene these days, and he believes it’s partly because they share genuine rural country roots and a similar work ethic. Like other artists, Campbell has made sacrifices for the sake of a music career, but he says, “There’s nobody who wants it more than me.”
That’s not to say Campbell is all business. Fans have started to become familiar with his quick wit and dry humor through programs like GAC’s “Behind The Video” special on the making of “Outta My Head,” and his turn at the microphone as co-host of the 2012 CMA Awards coverage on AOL’s popular site “The Boot.” He’s not afraid to share his playful side, either. He lights up in conversation sharing pictures and talking about the fun he and his band and crew have on the road playing on the cornhole boards Campbell had custom painted with his logo. Asked what most fans don’t know about him yet, Campbell grins, “I’m an amazing cornhole player.”
But his busy career doesn’t leave much time for backstage games. Campbell became one of the most successful new artists of 2011 when his debut album was released and spawned the hits “Family Man,” “Fish,” and “When I Get It,” accompanied by some very creative videos. He continues that tradition with “Outta My Head,” in which he takes on the challenge of acting for the first time, playing a dual role in the mind-bending new video.
First single “Family Man” was a top 15 hit and featured in HBO’s “True Blood,” while “Fish” has sold a quarter of a million downloads. To cap off 2012, Campbell was surprised by his label president with a plaque commemorating four consecutive charted hits with over a billion radio airplay audience impressions and more than half a million downloads. He’s also made national TV appearances on “Fox & Friends” and “Huckabee,” won songwriting awards from SESAC, and been nominated by fans for two American County Awards.
Prior to landing his record deal, Campbell had spent time on the road playing keyboards in the bands of Tracy Byrd and then Luke Bryan, gigs that inspired him nightly. “Just being out there on the road and seeing the reaction from the audience to them and their songs, that was fuel to the fire,” he says. “That’s what I wanted for myself.” He was later discovered playing a regular gig at the downtown Nashville honky-tonk, The Stage.
Now, as the star of the show, he’s gotten so at ease on stage that he’s taken to sometimes stepping away from his guitar or piano and just working the stage while he sings. “That’s what the audience wants to see, so I challenged myself, and I’m getting more comfortable with it,” he says. “It’s easier to do during a hit song that everybody’s raising cain to.”
vHe’s also gained extensive touring experience in the last two years, including his first overseas shows in Switzerland and Australia, which were well received. “It’s amazing enough to me to go somewhere here in the United States and see people sing back my songs to me from the audience,” he says, “but when you fly 9,000 miles around the world to Australia, and somebody spots you in the middle of a crowd and tells you how much they love your music, I can’t explain how that makes you feel.”
Likewise, his songwriting has also been influenced—and improved—by the support he gets from fans. “After the first album, I realized that there was millions of people out there just like me,” he says. “I was shocked at all the responses I was getting on Twitter and Facebook from people who went through the same things I was going through. I realized we’re all in this together. There are more people in this world that are the same than different. So I figured out that I could just write my songs, and there’s going to be somebody out there that relates.”
But nothing influences the songwriting of this devoted family man more than his wife, Mindy, and daughters Preslee and Kinni Rose. “They’re everywhere in my music,” he says. “Most of the inspiration I have comes from them.”
With his debut album earning rave reviews from multiple media outlets, including USA Today, Associated Press, People and The Washington Post, Campbell went into the recording of his sophomore project a lot more relaxed, particularly since he’d already worked with Stegall on his previous set. But the singer still challenged himself to basically “start over” on the second album, despite having already laid a great foundation for his career. There’s still lots more he wants to accomplish.
“I’ve done some amazing things for a new artist,” says this Southern gentleman, “but I can’t slow down. I’ve got to keep full steam ahead.”