On This Day 20 Years Ago: Alan Jackson Tops the Chart With Fatherly Favorite ‘Drive (For Daddy Gene)’

by Jim Casey

20 years ago, Alan Jackson scored his 20th chart-topper when he rode “Drive (For Daddy Gene)” to No. 1 on the Billboard Hot Country chart on May 25, 2002. Alan penned the sentimental favorite in honor of his late father, Eugene, who died in 2000. Of course, the affectionate remembrance has been a favorite of Father’s Day Playlists ever since.

Alan released his 10th studio album, Drive, in January 2002. The 13-song album was buoyed by its lead single, “Where Were You (When the World Stopped Turning),” which Jackson penned in response to the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Jackson released “Where Were You” in November 2001. The tune reached the top of the Billboard Country Airplay chart in six weeks. To coincide with the album’s release, Alan shipped his sophomore single, “Drive (For Daddy Gene),” to country radio in January 2002.

When it was released, Drive became Alan Jackson’s first album to debut atop the all-genre Billboard 200 chart. Drive also reached No. 1 on the Billboard Top Country Albums chart. Jackson’s sophomore single followed suit up the singles chart.

Alan Takes the Wheel

The nostalgic “Drive (For Daddy Gene)” pays homage to Eugene Jackson. The song recalls Alan’s childhood memories of his father teaching him to drive a boat (first verse) and a truck (second verse). The third verse evolves to express the hope that Alan Jackson’s three daughters will think fondly of him someday for “letting them drive my old jeep across the pasture at our home.

“After my daddy died, I wanted to write something for him,” said Alan Jackson to Billboard in 2001. “I tried a couple of times, and I always ended up writing some sad, dying song. I didn’t want to do that—I wanted to write something nice. Daddy didn’t say much, [but one of] the things he really gave me is my love for cars, and this whole song is a bunch of facts, really.”

“Drive (For Daddy Gene)” reached the top of the Billboard Country Airplay chart on May 25, 2002. The tune stayed on top for four weeks, becoming one of the biggest hits of the year.

Directed by Director Steven Goldmann, the video for “Drive (For Daddy Gene)” won Video of the Year at the ACM Awards in 2002. The clip created an evocative half-animated vision of Alan Jackson’s poignant recollection of Eugene.