Alan Jackson was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame at the annual Medallion Ceremony on Sunday. The honoree requested that country icon Loretta Lynn be the one to place the Country Music Hall of Fame medallion around his neck. Lynn suffered a stroke in May and has only made one public appearance since then.
When she walked onto the stage with a little help from fellow Country Music Hall of Fame member George Strait and her daughter, Patsy, the audience erupted into applause.
Lynn spoke 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 Jackson’s induction.
“This is the first time I’ve been out of the house. You’re the only thing that could have brought me here,” she said. “I love you, honey, and I want to say, ‘Congratulations.’ I am so proud of you.”
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Lynn also shared the story of her first conversation with Jackson 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.”
Strait sang Jackson's 2003 song "Remember When" for the honoree. Lee Ann Womack delivered Alan's 1990 debut hit, "Here in the Real World," and Alison Krauss performed another hit from Alan's early years, 1991's "Someday."
Lynn 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 Jackson 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.
Jackson's daughters have inspired several of his biggest hits, most notably 2002's "Drive (For Daddy Gene)." We asked him what they thought of their father getting country music's highest honor.
“They are all so proud,” Jackson said. “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.”
Jackson said 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.”
Others inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame include 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.