For two decades, country fans have admired Alan Jackson for his warm baritone, exceptional songwriting and laidback personality. And that enduring popularity has earned him the top spot on the new special, What’s Your 20? 20 Greatest Men, 20 Years , which debuted Wednesday (Aug. 10) on CMT.
From 1990 through 2010, Jackson notched 50 Top 10 hits, including modern classics like “Don’t Rock the Jukebox,” “Chattahoochee,” “Where Were You (When the World Stopped Turning)” and “It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere.” He’s expected to release a new album later this year.
Trace Adkins, who opened for Jackson early in his own career, says, “What I’ve always known about Alan is he is able to focus like a laser on his audience. He knows exactly what Alan Jackson fans want to hear and he has kept the crosshairs on that his entire career.”
Sara Evans still recalls listening to the radio in 1990 and hearing “Wanted,” Jackson’s second Top 10 single. “When I first heard that, I died. I was like, ’Oh, my gosh. This is like a Vern Gosdin or a George Jones for the ’90s.’ … His songwriting was so authentic and country, country, country and heartfelt. So I loved Alan Jackson from day one and have kind of idolized him ever since.”
Joe Nichols adds, “Just as far as the modern era goes, I don’t think there’s a more perfect traditional country singer or writer. To be able to connect in a Merle Haggard way to the common man and write song after song about just regular things, regular life and have success, I think he’s one of the best. He’s an understated singer. … I think he’s a great country singer in that he doesn’t do too much. He does enough to deliver a song and does it with a very good, honest traditional country twang. He writes them, too, so you can’t beat that.”
George Strait placed second on the list, just ahead of Tim McGraw, Kenny Chesney and Keith Urban. Toby Keith, Brad Paisley, Blake Shelton, Jason Aldean and Garth Brooks round out the Top 10.
Here’s the final ranking from CMT’s What’s Your 20? 20 Greatest Men, 20 Years.
1. Alan Jackson 2. George Strait 3. Tim McGraw 4. Kenny Chesney 5. Keith Urban 6. Toby Keith 7. Brad Paisley 8. Blake Shelton 9. Jason Aldean 10. Garth Brooks 11. Rascal Flatts 12. Trace Adkins 13. Johnny Cash 14. Vince Gill 15. Brooks & Dunn 16. Willie Nelson 17. Hank Williams Jr. 18. Dierks Bentley 19. Randy Travis 20. Zac Brown Band