“He has an uncanny ability to know what his audience wants to hear,” says Rascal Flatts’ Jay DeMarcus of Jason Aldean in Backstory: Jason Aldean premiering Thursday, September 27, 8 p.m./ET on Great American Country (GAC). Jay, along with Jason’s manager, producer, wife, band, publicist, agent and label executive help tell the story of the Georgia native’s long road to the top of the country charts.
“Yes he was spoiled,” says his mom Debbie Wood, who raised Jason as a single parent. “But I feel like he was spoiled with love.” He was still a minor when he played gigs at some of Macon’s best known clubs, which meant Wood had to sit at the club late into the night knowing she had to be at work the next morning and her son had to be at school. After high school Jason chose music over baseball and traveled with a band called Young Guns. A chance meeting with producer Michael Knox at an Atlanta club changed everything.
“From there it just started happening,” Jason remembers. “I came up to Nashville, recorded some songs (with Knox) and sort of figured out that we were on to something that was cool.” He’d been in town just one month when he got a verbal offer from MCA Records which didn’t materialize; he was then picked up by Capitol Records. “They wanted me to be a completely different artist than what I moved to town to be. I just figured that’s how it works…it wasn’t really what I wanted to do but I was, like, ‘Well, if this is what I’ve got to do to get my record deal.’”
The Capitol deal ended and in the meantime, Jason married his high school sweetheart and they had their first child, a daughter. He and Knox vowed to regroup and performed a staggering 40 industry showcases hoping to find his next opportunity. “You get here and you have all these things happen right off the bat and all the sudden, like a light switch, it just shuts down and you can’t get anybody to show any interest in what you’re doing,” Jason says. Days before packing up a moving van to return home to Macon, Jason performed one last Nashville showcase. He had a record deal with Broken Bow Records at night’s end.
After almost seven years of false starts, Jason was topping the charts with his signature country sound laced with a rock and roll attitude. He’s pushed the envelope and succeeded. “I feel real comfortable doing what we’re doing and what we’ve done to get us to this point,” the star admits. “So I’m going to continue to play the kind of music I enjoy, things that I want to get onstage and sing about.”