Alan Jackson on Hall of Fame Induction: 'I Don't Feel Quite Worthy'

"It's hard to get in here," says Jackson, who joins songwriter Don Schlitz and the late Jerry Reed in Class of 2017

Alan Jackson will join songwriter Don Schlitz and the late Jerry Reed as the newest Country Music Hall of Fame inductees later this year. Credit: John Shearer/Getty

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, Jackson reflected on those early years as the flagship artist on the Arista Nashville label, and the legacy he has built with such iconic hits as "Here in the Real World," "Remember When," "Don't Rock the Jukebox" and "Where Were You (When the World Stopped Turning)."

"At the time, I don't think I was thinking about that [legacy]," Jackson told Rolling Stone Country of that first trip to the Hall of Fame in '91. "I was just so happy for them to have that radio. That was a big moment for me, to have something in the Hall of Fame. At that time, I was just trying to have hits and make the next album. At that time in my career, I was just trying to make it through the next year and hoping my career would last three or four years."

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.