Country music legend Alan Jackson is celebrating his birthday on Oct. 17. The “Chattahoochie” singer is turning 62.
While millions of his fans know Jackson for his dozens of No. 1 songs, many likely don’t know about his humble beginnings and road to success in the country music industry. Here’s all you need to know about Alan Jackson…
Jackson is the youngest of five children born to Joseph Eugen and Ruth Musick. Of his siblings, Jackson is the only boy. He grew up in a small home in Newnan, GA built around his grandfather’s tool shed on their nine-acre farm.
In addition to living near his grandparents, Jackson also lived within walking distance to several other family members including an aunt and a grandmother who lived directly behind him.
“We weren’t way out in the country, but we were rural,” he once told American Profile. “I didn’t know how unusual it was to grow up surrounded by that much family until I got older. It was different. I realize now that a big part of who I am comes from growing up the way I did.”
While Jackson did not grow up with “much money,” he credits his parents with giving him and his siblings a special upbringing.
“I think I had really good parents who were very caring people, very honest and humble people,” Jackson said. “When you’re raised that way, it stays with you most of your life. Of course, you don’t realize how special that is until you’re older. We didn’t have much money, but we were always happy. I’ve always had an easy, comfortable life.”
Alan Jackson: The Formative Years
“You ever seen that movie Stand By Me, about a bunch of boys in a small town in the ’60s?” he said. “That’s exactly the way I was. We’d put a quarter on the railroad track just to wait and see the train run over it. If we weren’t messing around on the tracks, we were riding our bikes into the little four-square center of town where they had these small shops. There wasn’t a lot of crime or a lot of worries. I think all that played into who I am.”
The “Remember When” singer stayed in Georgia throughout his formative years eventually marrying his high school sweetheart Denise upon graduation.
During an interview with The Boot, Jackson recalled his younger days coming out of high school. “I was fooling around with cars after I graduated,” he said. “Like most people, I got married young, to somebody [I was] already dating in high school. After that is when it changed when I was in my early 20s. I started singing on weekends.”
Pursuing a Career in Music
“One big step, [my wife] Denise was a school teacher when we got married, and she got a job as a flight attendant at the airlines,” he said. “When she did, in that small town, that was like her going to Europe or something. In that small town, it was inconceivable that she’d take this job and fly around the country and wouldn’t be home having babies. I guess that opened the door a little bit to something other than the normal routine.”
At the age of 27, Jackson and his wife moved to Nashville. He first worked in a mailroom, but it didn’t take long for many in the Music City to notice his star power. After a meeting with Glen Campbell’s publishing company, Jackson’s career was set to start.
Soaring to the Top of the Charts
Over the course of his illustrious career, Jackson sold more than 80 million records. He racked up 26 No. 1 hits with songs like “Don’t Rock the Jukebox,” “Chasin’ That Neon Rainbow,” “Little Bitty,” and “Livin’ on Love.”
Those hit songs came from a number of albums. Currently, Jackson has released 16 studio albums, 1 live album, 12 compilation albums, and 1 tribute album.
In addition to his commercial radio success, Jackson also regularly takes home hardware at the awards shows. He’s won 2 Grammys awards, 16 CMA Awards, and 17 ACM Awards. Jackson also received nominations for many other tunes and albums.
On His Hit Song Responding to 9/11
“My life had been heading in that direction for several years anyway,” Alan Jackson said. “I think 9/11 made us realize some things about our own lives and our country, and they were things that I’d been thinking about for a while.”
He continued by saying: “I had been maturing a little bit, and with the children growing up, my priorities had become different. I think I’m in a good place in my life, and it’s not because of the music success as much as it is having a good life at home.”
Check out “Where Were You (When the World Stopped Turning)” below:
Alan Jackson: Family Life
“My wife grew up real similar to the way I did,” he said. “So we pretty much like the same things. Even though we’ve got money, big houses, big cars, and all that stuff, I still go in there and make cornbread from scratch to eat with my black-eyed peas. I haven’t gone Hollywood, as they say, just because I’ve made a little money.”
While Alan Jackson has accomplished things in country music that many only dream of, he feels most proud of his children.
“We have so many people tell us how sweet our children are,” he said. “I think at first people are surprised my children are that way, considering the lifestyle most people think we live. I think they’re surprised when they get to know us and see that we’re the people we are—which is the same way we were before we had all this.”