Learn the Stories Behind Alan Jackson’s ACM and CMA Awards Show Protests
Longtime country star Alan Jackson has been a fan-favorite singer for quite some time. But he isn't afraid to risk his popularity and take a stand for what he believes in -- even if it means going against what "the man" says. This Taste of Country You Think You Know Country? video shares the stories behind Jackson's protests at the ACM Awards and CMA Awards in the '90s.
In 1994, while his peers were donning floor-length gowns and sleek tuxedos and dazzling the photographers, Jackson made no attempt to spiff up for the ACM Awards red carpet. Instead, he wore a pair of pants paired with a Hank Williams T-shirt -- and, to be honest, it looked more like a muscle shirt than a T-shirt. Jackson was, in effect, sticking it to the ACMs, and he explained his reasons backstage ... sort of.
"Well, I love Hank, and ... I get a lot of gifts on the road playing, and a fan gave me this shirt," Jackson said, "and I just saw it in the closet before I came out here this weekend, and I grabbed it and said, ‘I’m gonna wear it for my song,’ you know, "Gone Country." Hank’s country.”
When Jackson hopped on stage to perform at the ceremony, all eyes were on him and his Williams T-shirt. Soon, though, all eyes turned to his drummer, Bruce Rutherford, because although drum sounds were echoing throughout the venue, Rutherford had no drumsticks in hand. You see, before the show, ACM producers told Jackson to play along with a pre-recorded track -- a move that Jackson felt was dishonest to fans. So, he came up with the brilliant plan of having Rutherford play without drumsticks, to clue the audience in to what was going on.
Five years later, at the CMA Awards, Jackson was ticked off again. His friend George Jones was nominated for Single of the Year, for "Choices," but was only given one minute of stage time and told to play an abridged version of the song. Jones refused and stayed home, but Jackson cooked up another idea: He interrupted his own song "Pop a Top" to sing Jones' "Choices," much to the delight of the crowd. And so the story goes, Jones, who was watching from home, was moved to tears.
Press play on the video above to learn more about Jackson's outlaw decisions, rise to stardom and much more.
After relocating from Las Vegas to Nashville in 2020 out of necessity during the COVID-19 pandemic, the ACM Awards are back in Music City in 2021. As showrunners did last year, they're spreading this year's event out across iconic venues (the Grand Ole Opry House, the Ryman Auditorium and the Bluebird Cafe), though a few performances will take place elsewhere. They'll be following national, state and local guidelines related to the pandemic, as well as additional, self-imposed safety measures.
The 2021 ACM Awards are set for Sunday (April 18). They'll begin at 8PM ET and will air live on CBS and be available to stream on Paramount+; sign up for the streaming service here.
PICTURES: Alan Jackson Through the Years