In January 1991, Alan Jackson released the song that would become his first Number One hit, "I'd Love You All Over Again." That same month, Jackson was at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum – then located on Nashville's Music Row – to donate the radio his father had won in a contest at the Pepsi-Cola plant in Jackson's hometown of Newnan, Georgia. The radio, along with the music his family heard on it, had inspired his previous single, "Chasin' That Neon Rainbow," still a staple for the singer-songwriter and Grand Ole Opry member 25-plus years later.
On Tuesday, in what could only be described as a full-circle moment, Jackson was named one of the three newest inductees into the Country Music Hall of Fame, along with late musician, songwriter and actor Jerry Reed and "The Gambler" songwriter Don Schlitz.
Following the unveiling of the new Hall of Fame members,
"At the time, I don't think I was thinking about that [legacy],"
Jackson, who is currently in the middle of his Honky Tonk Highway Tour, admits he was surprised to learn how specific the Hall of Fame's guidelines are when it comes to attaining membership, which now includes just 133 men, women and groups since the first inductees – Hank Williams, Fred Rose and Jimmie Rodgers – in 1961.
"It made me realize it's hard to get in here," he says with a laugh. "Even though I've done a lot, I still don't feel quite worthy, but I feel like it's an honor to qualify for what it requires to be in here with these great people. I've always tried to make music the first priority – not being a star, not being in the spotlight, just trying to make music that I loved, that the fans like, and not compromise that to fit into something else."
The newest Country Music Hall of Fame members will be officially inducted during the Medallion Ceremony later this year.