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Alan Jackson Credits Pilots With Jet-Setting His Country Ambition

EMI/Alan’s Country Records

Alan Jackson has definitely earned the status of a superstar, but the humble singer says he never dreamed about enjoying the perks of fame and fortune, or doing anything beyond his small hometown.

“When I was in high school, I don’t know that I really had big dreams,” Alan tells The Boot. “Especially back in that time, you didn’t have all the access to the world like you do now. I had never been to a concert or done anything — hardly traveled anywhere. I had no idea you could do something like this. So when I was in high school, I don’t think I had any thoughts about grandeur like this. At the time, I was just like most kids, we were trying to get out of high school. Some went to college, some didn’t. Some went to work, and that’s all I was planning on doing.”

The Georgia native took a regular job after high school and thought his future plans were already established. “I was fooling around with cars after I graduated,” he recalls. “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. 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. 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.”

The country superstar credits a few of his former classmates with giving him the inspiration to pursue his passion. “I had a couple of friends I went to school with that kept saying they were going to be airline pilots,” he explains. “Where I lived was south of Atlanta and all the Delta and Eastern pilots, a lot of them lived south of Atlanta close to us, and they were the biggest thing we’d ever seen. They had a nice home and flew airplanes for a living. They were like celebrities. These boys wanted to fly, and I said, ‘Man, you all will never get on the airlines.’ They kept flying … they finally got on the airlines, and when they did, I thought, ‘If these guys can do that, I need to do something with my singing.’”

Something, indeed! Spurred by his friends’ career ambitions, Alan moved to Nashville, and the rest is history. His legendary career now includes selling more than 50 million albums, scoring dozens of No. 1 singles and earning a trophy case full of awards, including two Grammys and three CMA awards for Entertainer of the Year.

Alan will spend much of the next few months on the road, while he anticipates the release of his 17th studio album, Thirty Miles West, in June. See his concert schedule here, and pre-order his upcoming CD here.

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