June 26, 1989, might have seemed like any other day in Nashville, but it was actually one of those watershed moments that only reveals itself in retrospect. A struggling young country singer named Alan Jackson signed his first recording contract that day — 32 years ago today — launching one of the most celebrated country music careers of all time. The photo above, from Jackson’s private collection, shows the aspiring young singer with Tim DuBois, then-president of Arista Records, and Barry Coburn, Jackson’s manager at the time.
For someone who would go on to such an auspicious career, Jackson got off to a slow start with his first single, “Blue Blooded Woman,” which failed to crack the Top 40. But his next single, “Here in the Real World” — the title track of his debut album — reached the Top 5 and was followed by a rapid succession of hits including “Wanted,” “Chasin’ That Neon Rainbow” and “I’d Love You All Over Again.” From there, the singer-songwriter has amassed an astonishing 50 Top 10 hits, with 26 of them reaching No. 1.
Jackson has also won numerous Grammy Awards, CMA Awards and ACM Awards. He is a member of the Georgia Music Hall of Fame and the Grand Ole Opry. In 2014, Jackson received the first-ever Impact Award at the CMT Music Awards. Fortunately for his fans, the word “retirement” doesn’t seem to be in the 62-year-old’s vocabulary.
“I don’t know what I’d retire from,” he points out wryly. “I don’t work much now.”
This story was originally written by Sterling Whitaker, and revised by Angela Stefano and Annie Zaleski.
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