CMA Awards 1999: Alan Jackson Gets A Standing Ovation For Protest Performance Of George Jones’ “Choices”

Alan Jackson country music
CMA Awards

With the 57th Annual CMA Awards coming up here in a few weeks, what better time than now to look back on some great moments from the past. To be honest, awards shows have lost their luster in the past 5 years or so, and while they’ve always been full of corny humor and overdone pageantry, the declining ratings speak for themselves.

Even Blake Shelton recently said they’re beginning to lose credibility:

“First of all, thank you to the fans… and I really do believe that these awards shows are beginning to lose credibility over the last few years and fan-voted awards, to me, are really the only stand-up awards shows left in our industry it feels like sometimes.

Because you guys are the ones that buy the records, you come to the shows, and you vote on these things.”

That being said, let’s take the opportunity to walk back through some of the most memorable performances, hilarious speeches, and wildest moments.

From Sturgill Simpson busking outside to Charlie Rich lighting a fire, both Alan Jackson and Waylon Jennings walking out in difference instances, the CMA Awards haven’t always been as boring as they are these days. Let’s take a walk back to 1999, back when the respect for country music was still alive and well.

In 1999, country legend George Jones release the Billy Yates and Mike Curtis-written song “Choices” as the lead single from his Cold Hard Truth record. It was an absolute hit and even won a Grammy for Best Male Country Vocal Performance. When the CMA Awards came around later than year, it was nominated for Single Of The Year as well and the CMAs even invited George to perform the song during the ceremony.

However, they were only going to give George, a country music LEGEND, approximately a minute to perform an abridged version of the song. Abridged? That’s a teaser clip. George refused and didn’t even come to the show.

So when it was Alan Jackson’s turn to perform (the CMAs asked him to play his current single “Pop A Top”), Alan gave them a big middle finger and played, “Choices.” He began his performance with “Pop A Top,” but about halfway through, he broke into the George Jones hit and was immediately awarded a standing ovation. And when he was done, he just walked right off that stage and out of the building. Not back to his chair, not out to the bar for a drink… Alan wasn’t sticking around for the rest of it. He made his statement and left.

When asked about it later, George admitted he was moved to tears by the gesture.

“What he did meant more to me than I could ever say. I was watching the show, and when he began singing ‘Choices,’ it moved my wife Nancy and me both to tears.

He made a huge statement on my behalf, and on behalf of traditional country music, and didn’t worry about what the consequences might be.”

Alan Jackson people… they don’t make ’em like that any more.

Alan later explained his reasoning saying that, although abridged performances were common at awards shows, this was the legendary George Jones… show him some damn respect.

Hard to argue with that.

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