Alan Jackson was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame at the annual Medallion Ceremony Oct. 22 . The occasion would have been a huge milestone for him no matter what, but the event took on even more meaning because of the person who inducted him into the hallowed hall.
Alan requested his hero, Loretta Lynn, be the one to place the Country Music Hall of Fame medallion around his neck. Loretta suffered a stroke in May and has only made one public appearance since then. That’s why the invitation-only audience at the Medallion Ceremony burst into thunderous applause when Loretta walked onto the stage with a little help from fellow Country Music Hall of Fame member George Strait and her daughter, Patsy.
Loretta talked slowly, but her thoughts were very clear as she explained why she made the effort to travel from her home in Hurricane Mills, Tennessee, to Nashville for Alan’s induction.
She told Alan, “This is the first time I’ve been out of the house. You’re the only thing that could have brought me here. I love you, honey, and I want to say, ‘Congratulations.’ I am so proud of you. Hey, you should be here” in the Hall of Fame.
Loretta also shared the story of her first conversation with Alan after hearing him perform a few songs.
She recalled, “The first time I ever met Alan and seen Alan, he looked like a scared little boy. He was practicing backstage going through his songs. I remember, I looked at him and I said, ‘You’re gonna be one of the greatest singers in country music.’ He hasn’t let me down.”
Alan’s other friend and hero, George Strait, sang “Remember When” in Alan’s honor. Lee Ann Womack delivered Alan’s debut hit, “Here in the Real World,” and Alison Krauss loaned her haunting voice to another hit from Alan’s early years, “Someday.”
Loretta joined Alan, George and fellow Country Music Hall of Fame member Connie Smith to close out the ceremony with a singalong of the official anthem of the Hall of Fame, “Will the Circle Be Unbroken.”
Before the event, Rare Country caught up with Alan and his wife, Denise, to see what he was thinking going into the big event. Alan told us he’d spent most of the day just watching football and watching his wife and three daughters get ready for the ceremony.
Alan’s daughters have inspired several of his biggest hits, most notably, “Drive (For Daddy Gene).” We asked him what they thought of their father getting country music’s highest honor.
“They are all so proud,” Alan told us. “They all say how proud they are. They’ve always been that way about my music and been such a big part of it, influencing songs and everything. I’m so happy they were able to be here tonight to be a part of this.”
For Alan, it’s a little overwhelming to realize the plaque with his name on it will now hang in the Country Music Hall of Fame’s rotunda beside the plaques of other giants of country music.
He said, “A lot of ’em are heroes I’ve patterned myself after, or tried to. All the way from Hank Williams to, more recently, Don Williams that passed away. Everyone from George [Jones] and Merle [Haggard,] just so many people that have been a part of all this history. Especially when you look at how many are members here and how many that aren’t — I feel so blessed and special to be included with these guys and girls.”
Alan was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame alongside the late country star and actor Jerry Reed and songwriter Don Schlitz, best known for writing Kenny Rogers’ “The Gambler” and Randy Travis’s “Forever and Ever, Amen” among scores of other major country hits.