Townsville country music fans are trekking south in their droves to take in country superstar Alan Jackson’s three Brisbane concerts from tomorrow night. Ross Purdie talked to the man ahead of his Australian tour
THE banged-out 1955 Thunderbird is the only car parked among Alan Jackson’s multimillion dollar collection that he really cares about.
Bought when the country music star was just 15, showing off to his school sweetheart Denise, the couple sold it when they got engaged and needed the cash for a wedding.
Twenty years later, after Jackson had grown into one of country music’s most prolific sensations, his wife tracked it down and bought it back as a surprise.
It means more than the Aston Martins and Ferraris which have jostled for garage space over the years.
‘‘ The Thunderbird was a big part of my years as a teenager and a big part of my life,’’ Jackson says from his home in Tennessee.
‘‘ All I cared about was cars growing up so it always had a special place in my heart and it’s really the only one I care about.’’
Clearly big on firsts, Jackson was very excited about his first visit to Australia. The 52-year-old singer is well aware of the feverish appetite for his brand of traditional country music and instantly apologises for taking so long to make it Down Under.
‘‘ I’ve always heard what great fans you all have there and what a beautiful country it is,’’ he says.
‘‘ I’m looking to finally getting the chance to see it in person.’’
One of America’s best known country music singers, Jackson has recorded 14 albums since 1990 and topped the country singles chart 35 times during his illustrious career.
He’s performed at the White House for three US presidents, two Bushes and a Clinton, owns a star on Hollywood’s Walk Of Fame, been parodied as a character on South Park and had an American highway named after him.
His trophies stack up like a skyscraper, a 16-time award winner at both the CMA and ACM awards with the tally including three CMA Entertainer of the Year honours.
His greatest compliment though? Two fans so dedicated they decided to name their dogs Alan.
Jackson may just be the most modest man in history to have sold 50 million albums.
Unlike fellow country stars like Garth Brooks and Shania Twain, he shuns glamour by maintaining the ethos of what he sings about – drinking, love, heartache.
When he won his second Grammy for a country collaboration with the Zac Brown Band this year he happily watched on TV.
Jackson enjoys the simple things in life, being outdoors and tinkering with his vast collection of boats and cars, skills learnt from his mechanic father who raised him well on the banks of Lake Martin on the GeorgiaAlabama line. (‘‘ He wasn’t a mean man, he loved animals and his only vice was smoking.’’)
Family, children, health and happi- ness are the first things Jackson reels off when asked about the most important things in his life.
If Jackson appears moderate to his means it’s a quality which runs in the family.
His mother continues to live in the same shoebox she raised five children in. Jackson, being the only boy and the youngest, slept in the hallway due to a lack of space.
He later offered to buy his mum a bigger place, but reluctantly settled for a lavish refurb when his overtures fell on deaf ears.
‘‘ She wouldn’t leave there no matter what,’’ he reveals.