December 10, 2023

Alan Jackson has a protracted historical past of protesting at nation music awards reveals. It began again in 1994 on the ACM Awards (which, by the way, he was co-hosting!) when he modified out of his tuxedo into denims and a Hank Williams t-shirt to make some extent in regards to the worth of conventional nation music. The identical night time, Jackson was informed to “carry out” a prerecorded observe. He informed his drummer to not hassle taking his drumsticks with him onstage. The end result was—for many who observed the gentleman proper behind Jackson was, comically, enjoying air drums—a painfully apparent reveal that the efficiency was not reside. 

In newer historical past, Jackson has continued to be vocal about his views, even strolling out of a efficiency by The Chicks and Beyoncé on the 2016 CMA Awards as a result of he didn’t help pop singers being featured in nation music. 

His most well-known protest, nonetheless, was on the 1999 CMAs, and it wasn’t on his personal behalf. As an alternative, Jackson was protesting for his good friend and idol, George Jones. So what occurred that night time, and what was Jackson’s protest all about? 

The 1999 CMAs 

In 1999, Jackson was invited to carry out on the CMAs, and organizers particularly needed him to carry out his hit single “Pop a High.” Nonetheless, they’d additionally approached nation legend George Jones, whose track “Selections” had been nominated for Nation Music Single of the Yr. There was a caveat: he would solely have one minute to sing his hit track, necessitating an abridged model. Then again, youthful musicians had been allotted as much as 4 minutes for his or her units. 

Jones thought of the time slot an insult and opted to not attend the awards ceremony. As an alternative, he watched from residence as Alan Jackson took his place. However Jackson wasn’t about to let anybody neglect that the night time ought to have been about Jones. 

“I assumed it was silly that the CMA wouldn’t let George do his entire track,” Jackson later informed The Washington Put up. “George wasn’t some new artist nominated for single of the 12 months. He’s a residing legend who’s been making data for 40 years.”

Jackson took the stage to carry out “Pop a High.” However partway by way of the track, the nation singer stopped abruptly and started to play “Selections,” which had obtained Jones’s nomination. As quickly because the track ended, Jackson left the stage with no phrase. What he was attempting to speak couldn’t be clearer: there was a scarcity of respect towards the titans of recent nation, who had made the style what it was. And he wasn’t having it.

[RELATED: 5 Deep Cuts from Alan Jackson]

The Response

CMA organizers didn’t touch upon Jackson’s wordless protest. However the response from witnesses within the viewers, and at residence, was important. Jackson obtained a standing ovation as he left the stage, and a few attendees later expressed help for him and Jones. And Jones, who was watching the published from his residence, was deeply touched. 

“Alan sings conventional nation music, and I like him for that,” he informed the Put up. “What he did meant extra to me than I may ever say. I used to be watching the present, and when he started singing ‘Selections’… it moved Nancy and me each to tears. He made an enormous assertion on my behalf and on behalf of conventional nation music and didn’t fear about what the implications is perhaps.”

However for Jackson, the protest was twofold. A part of it was in protection of a person who was a private hero. He stated Jones had formed his music profession when he first broke into nation music. However one other important half was that he believed conventional nation music was being unjustly pushed off the scene by trendy, extra pop-influenced songs. 

“I’ve at all times been dedicated to conventional nation,” he continued in his feedback to the Put up. “I’ve at all times tried to make good data, real trustworthy data folks can relate to and faucet a foot to. I’ve tried to make the sorts of data that George, Merle, and the opposite singers I pay tribute to on my albums have made.”

Regardless of his protest—and the continuing modifications nation music’s endured through the years—Jackson’s profession by no means suffered. Three years later, he was nominated for a record-breaking 10 awards on the 2002 CMAs. And in 2017, he was inducted into the Nation Music Corridor of Fame for his contributions to the style. 

Photograph by Leah Puttkammer/FilmMagic

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