NASHVILLE — Alan Jackson, Jerry “Guitar Man” Reed and The Gambler writer Don Schlitz are 2017’s class of inductees into The Country Music Hall of Fame.
The Country Music Association made the announcement Wednesday morning during an event at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. The men will raise the number of those inducted into The Country Music Hall of Fame to 133.
Jackson, Reed and Schlitz will be formally inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame during a Medallion Ceremony at CMA Theater later this year.
Hall of Fame member Vince Gill hosted the announcement, introducing inductees in three categories: "Veterans Era Artist," "Modern Era Artist," and "Songwriter," awarded every third year in rotation with two other categories.
Modern Era Artist — Alan Jackson
Jackson, part of country music’s famed class of 1989, was invited to join the Country Music Hall of Fame 28 years after he signed his record deal with Arista Nashville.
“My whole career has just been a fairytale, all the stuff that’s happened to me,” said Jackson. “I came to Nashville with nothing and ignorant about the music business and had no experience and then to go through all of this, this is the ultimate piece of the puzzle. I don’t even know how to describe it.”
Jackson made a name for himself in his early career with his unique blend of current, classic and honkytonk sounds that embodied the genre’s neotraditional movement. He was the flagship artist on Arista Nashville and found immediate success with his debut album Here in the Real World, home to hits including I’d Love You All Over Again, Wanted and Chasin’ the Neon Rainbow. His voice was instantly recognizable and during the video age, popular clips including Chattahoochee cemented his cowboy-hat-wearing country man image and pushed his star even higher.
Jackson, 58, a native of Newnan, Ga., has released more than 20 albums — nine of which are multi-platinum.
Over the course of Jackson’s career, his biggest hits have included Midnight in Montgomery, Summertime Blues, Chattahoochee and his 9/11 tribute Where Were You (When the World Stopped Turning) that won Single and Song of the Year at the CMA Awards in 2002 and Best Country Song at The Grammy Awards.
Jackson has notched more than 30 No. 1 songs, sold close to 60 million albums, and has won more than 150 awards. Jackson was given the first ASCAP Heritage Award in 2014, recognizing him as the most performed country music songwriter-artist of the century.
“It’s hard to feel like you’re deserving of all of this,” Jackson said. “I still feel amazed when I go out on stage and people are screaming for you and know your songs. You wonder how all this happened. The Hall of Fame thing is the biggest honor of all for a guy who wants to sing country music and write country songs.”
Veterans Era Artist — Jerry Reed
Jerry Reed’s daughter Seidina Hubbard was beginning to think her daddy would never be inducted into The Country Music Hall of Fame. Not that he ever talked about it when he was alive, Hubbard said her father was too humble to verbalize lofty goals.
“He would be thrilled to death,” she said. “He was always a loud funny guy, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he'd shed a tear if he were here and had to speak for himself. He just loved country music and he loved writing songs and singing and playing guitar. That was him, 24-7, even in his sleep, his feet would be tapping writing a song in his sleep.”
Reed's career spanned from the 1950s-1990s and he received CMA nominations over the course of four decades. His fleet-fingered guitar skills scored him musical parts on many of the era’s most popular recordings and by the 1970s, he was one of country music’s most recognizable stars.
Reed’s finger-style guitar picking earned Chet Atkins’ stamp of approval with Atkins declaring him a Certified Guitar Player. Reed, an Atlanta native, was dubbed the Guitar Man and won CMA’s Instrumentalist of Year award twice. His most popular songs include When You’re Hot, You’re Hot, Amos Moses and A Thing Called Love. Reed worked alongside Elvis Presley in the studio, became a regular on the The Glen Campbell Good Time Hour, which opened the door to a career in film. Reed appeared alongside Burt Reynolds in multiple movies starting in the 1970s, including W.W. and the Dixie Dancekings and three popular Smokey and the Bandit films. Reed even had a hit with the series theme song, East Bound and Down. In 1998, he returned to the silver screen alongside Adam Sandler in The Waterboy.