Smooth Superstar Alan Jackson brings his show to Ironstone Vineyards

From The Modesto Bee

By Lisa Millegan

Country superstar Alan Jackson is not only the biggest artist to play at Ironstone Vineyards this season, he's the biggest in the past five years.

That's the word from Billy Cohen, publicist for the summer concert series.

"We have his only Northern California show this summer," Cohen said Monday. "We're almost sold out now."

Jackson, 50, has sold more than 40 million albums and produced more than 30 No. 1 singles. His hits include "Don't Rock the Jukebox," "Chatahoochee," "Little Bitty," "It's Five O'Clock Somewhere" (with Jimmy Buffett) and "Where Were You (When the World Stopped Turning)" about the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. He has covered such hits as "Summertime Blues," "Who's Cheatin' Who?" and "Pop a Top."

His current album, "Good Time," has produced the hits "Country Boy," "Small Town Southern Man" and "I Still Like Bologna." "He's huge," said Nikki Thomas, a DJ at KAT Country 103 FM. "He's probably of the same caliber and same level as, for instance, George Strait. " He's one of the core artists. A lot of artists aspire to be like him."

Born in Newnan, Ga., as the son of an auto mechanic, Jackson met his future wife, Denise, at a local Dairy Queen and married her in 1979. The couple have three children. It was Denise who helped get Jackson his big break when she met Glen Campbell while working as a flight attendant in 1985. She told the star about her talented husband and gave him a tape. Campbell suggested Jackson call his publishing company. A few months later, Jackson was on his way to recording his debut 1990 album, "Here in the Real World." He was inducted into the Grand Ole Opry the following year.

Standing 6 feet 4 inches tall and weighing in at 210 pounds, Jackson sticks out in a crowd. But he has a surprisingly gentle personality, said Thomas.

"He is the most shy person," Thomas said. "He is very quiet, he's very soft-spoken. "He is so genuine and so nice, one of the best people ever."