How Alan Jackson got his big break after his wife met Glen Campbell at an airport

6 July 2022, 12:48 | Updated: 6 July 2022, 15:33

Glen Campbell helped kickstart Alan Jackson's career
Glen Campbell helped kickstart Alan Jackson's career. Picture: Alamy/YouTube

By Tom Eames

Alan Jackson is one of country music's biggest names today, but at one stage he was a struggling musician looking for his career to take off.

His story is particularly unique, as it needed a country icon to get him his foot in the door in the most unique way.

Step forward Alan Jackson's devoted wife Denise.

Alan married his high school sweetheart in late 1979. They have three daughters together: Mattie Denise Selecman (born 1990), Alexandra Jane 'Ali' (born 1993), and Dani Grace (born 1997).

While the couple separated for several months in 1998 due Alan's busy career and his infidelity, they later reconciled.

He recorded several songs including 'She Likes It Too' and 'Remember When' about their relationship.

Alan began writing music in 1983, and he had dreams of becoming a music star. Aged 27, he and Denise moved from Newnan to Nashville, Tennessee, where he hoped to follow music full-time.

Alan Jackson has his wife Denise to thank for his career
Alan Jackson has his wife Denise to thank for his career. Picture: Getty
Glen Campbell helped save Alan Jackson's career
Glen Campbell helped save Alan Jackson's career. Picture: Getty

While in Tennessee, Alan Jackson got his first job in The Nashville Network's mailroom, while Denise worked as a flight attendant.

It was through this job that Denise came into contact with country legend Glen Campbell, and requested some advice for her husband.

Glen handed her the business card of his manager, and told her to call it, which ultimately jumpstarted Alan's career.

Following Glen's death, Alan spoke of his fondness for the 'Wichita Lineman' singer, saying:

I will always feel like I owe Glen a lot of gratitude – he was my first contact in Nashville when my wife, Denise, was a flight attendant. She met him at the airport and he gave her his business card for his publishing company. This connection led [sic] me down the path that brought me to where I am today.

- Alan Jackson

Soon after, Alan signed his first record deal with Arista, and in 1989 he became the first artist signed to the newly formed Arista Nashville branch of Arista Records.

In early 1990, Alan released his debut album Here in the Real World.

Since then, Alan has become one of the best-selling music artists of all time, having sold over 75 million records worldwide, with 44 million sold in the United States alone.

In late 1990, a sweet moment occurred on American TV as Alan was presented with a Gold record for his debut album, and Glen was there to share it with him:

Alan Jackson Surprise Gold Record Party/Glen Campbell