A few years ago, country newcomer Jackie Lee recruited his dad to drive him to a gig that was 14 hours away.
“It was my first real gig, and I was opening for Gary Allan. My dad drove us in a van that I wasn’t even sure would make it. We drove 14 hours from East Tennessee, played a 45-minute set, then got back in the van and drove all the way home,” Lee told me. “We only made about $1,000. But you have to do those things when you’re new.”
Once he told me about that epic first, I wanted to know about his other firsts and lasts.
“The first song I ever wrote was called ‘Thank You.’ When I was a junior in high school, the seniors asked me to sing at the baccalaureate. I was so honored, and I wanted to do something special. So I wrote a song while I was sitting in Spanish class,” he said.
The latest song Lee wrote is called “Long Year,” which he penned a year after his mother died.
“I’ll never write a song that does her justice. The song was for me. I sent it to my dad, and we both cried for 45 minutes on the phone,” he said.
The first album Lee ever owned was an early Boys Like Girls CD. And now, years later, in a weird twist of musical fate, that pop-rock band’s lead guitar player Paul DiGiovanni is now a country songwriter and producer, and he produced Lee’s “Getting Over You.”
And the latest album Lee bought?
“Justin Bieber’s Purpose,” he said. “And I love it.”