Alan Jackson, Don Schlitz Reflect on Their Country Music Hall of Fame Inductions
Alan Jackson, Don Schlitz and the late Jerry Reed were inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in a special ceremony on Sunday night (Oct. 22). Even though the inductees and their families found out about their nominations in April, it was still hard, at least for Jackson, to believe it was actually happening.
"[I was] surprised and honored. I felt unworthy," Jackson told The Boot and other reporters prior to the event, recalling his feelings when he found out he was going to be inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame. "I['m] very flattered, and at the same time, [I] feel like it's a dream, like I'm not supposed to be here."
Jackson credits much of his career to his wife Denise. It was she who, while she was a flight attendant, famously handed Glen Campbell a cassette tape of her husband singing and started his award-winning career in motion.
"It was the first step that led us here," she recalled of that moment. "You never know in life where things are going to lead you ... I knew in my heart one day that this would happen, but it's surreal to experience it."
Schlitz, who penned hits such as "The Gambler" and "The Greatest" for Kenny Rogers; "When You Say Nothing at All," which was a hit for both Keith Whitley and Alison Krauss; and "Good as I Was to You" by Lorrie Morgan, among others, chose to have Vince Gill induct him into the Country Music Hall of Fame, mostly because of the friendship the two men shared long before either of them had any success.
"Long before he had his big hits, he would come down [to the Bluebird], and we would play Don for a Dollar at the Bluebird, and we'd have 10 people, and people would turn away. I'm sitting there thinking, 'This guitar player next to me is Vince Gill, and you just don't know who he is yet,'" Schlitz remembered. "And so, he's been there, faithful, and the best thing I could say about him, or anybody, [is], he is the person he was then. He has always been a great, great human being."
Reed's daughters, Seidina and Charlotte Hubbard, were on hand to accept the Country Music Hall of Fame induction on behalf of their father, who passed away in 2008.
"This is something we hoped for for years," Seidina Hubbard said. "We were hoping it would happen while he was still alive, because Daddy earned it. We knew he earned it. And we know how he contributed to country music and the industry and Nashville. He was a great ambassador for country music ... Tonight, we're so proud and so emotional. It's very emotional."
Several former Country Music Hall of Fame inductees were also on hand at the 2017 Medallion Ceremony, including the Oak Ridge Boys, Bobby Bare, Bill Anderson, Fred Foster, Randy Travis and Charlie Daniels, the latter of whom said that he was proud to be able to witness Jackson's induction.
"He stayed true to the cause. He keeps the country in country. We need some of that," boasted Daniels. "Everything new is great and wonderful and fine and everything, but this guy keeps us grounded; he keeps our roots. I have a great, great admiration for him, and I have a great admiration for Jerry Reed and Don Schlitz. I think this class of 2017 is a really great class."
Daniels, who was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2016 with Travis and Foster, admitted that a Hall of Fame induction is a once-in-a-lifetime moment.
"I remember the anticipation and the excitement, because you know about this a good while before it happens. But when you actually get out of the car and you walk up the steps and you walk down this red carpet in front of all of the press and TV and cameras, the microphones, and it finally dawns on you, 'I'm getting ready to go in here ...,'" Daniels shared. "It's a very emotional feeling."
Every Country Music Hall of Fame Inductee, Ever