Jason Aldean Saluted by John Rich at Platinum Party

Aldean Cut Five of Rich's Song for Debut Album

Jason Aldean gathered his associates and admirers at the trendy Nashville restaurant Cabana on Thursday afternoon (June 7) to acknowledge the platinum certification of his self-titled debut album, which included the hits "Hicktown," "Why" and "Amarillo Sky."

After a lengthy introduction by Broken Bow label owner Benny Brown, Aldean stepped forward for a few words.

"Thank you, everybody, for being here today. I have a lot of people to thank," he said, which proved to be true. "A lot of people are involved in what goes on in the success of the record. I just happen to be the one singing the song."

Aldean collected his enormous plaque first and posed for a few photos. Then, for about 45 minutes, a parade of plaques were graciously distributed -- to the label, the radio promotion staff, the management team, the band, his producer, his booking agents, his office personnel, his publicist, CMT, his video director, the distribution company, the manufacturing company and so on.

A representative from Aldean's label pointed out Big & Rich's John Rich in the crowd and asked him if he wanted to get up and talk. Guess what he said?

"Can I get a big ol' 'Hell, yeah!' for Jason Aldean!"

When the cheering died down, Rich settled in with the microphone. "Let me tell you a story. We've had the pleasure of working with this gentleman here. I remember when I was writing at Warner Chappell [a music publishing company], early on. I kept hearing about this guy who was perusing through my catalog, and I said, 'Who is he?' They said, 'His name's Jason Aldean.' I said, 'I don't know who he is.' They said, 'He's really good, he's really good.' I said, 'Cool.' The next thing I know, I looked up and Jason had cut five or six of my songs on his album. I went, 'I hope he's good.' He was cutting the good shit!"

Over the laughter, Rich continued, "I remember thinking, 'He better be good because he's cutting my best stuff,' and they said, 'I promise you, this kid's got it, man. He's got a great future.' I said, 'Well, rock 'n' roll. Let's go.'"

Needless to say, Rich made a mint from the album. His co-writing credits on the project include all three singles (which all went Top 10 at country radio), as well as "I'm Just a Man" and "You're the Love I Wanna Be In."

Turning to Aldean, Rich said, "I've watched you do a lot of shows out there on the road. I've seen the bands, and I've seen you grow as an entertainer. Your confidence and everything that needed to come into play for you to be a serious artist in this business has come into play. And to be able to stand here today and watch you accept your platinum album certification, to me, is a hell of a big deal. Congratulations!"

Of course, Aldean's career momentum continues. His second album, Relentless, debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard country chart this week, selling more than 98,000 copies in its first week. He's also performing at Friday night's (June 8) stadium show at the CMA Music Festival. That will be immediately followed by a concert at the Wildhorse Saloon to raise money for breast cancer research. The third annual charity event will honor his best friend's wife who died from the disease at age 29.

To close the platinum celebration, Aldean was succinct. He gave thanks to country radio and once again offered his gratitude to the songwriters, his label and manager.

"Thank you guys so much for giving us great songs," he concluded. "It all starts with that. If we didn't have that, we wouldn't be up here today."

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