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George Strait waves to 50,000 screaming fans at Nashville's Adelphia Coliseum and breaks into a Texas-sized smile. A lanky figure has just strolled onto the stage, and suddenly the screams rise to decibel-piercing level. Could that long, tall guest star possibly be ... Alan Jackson?
The spotlights confirm the fans' frenzy. George and Alan exchange grins and the two crusaders for tradition break into a verbal assault on modern pop-country - their duet "Murder On Music Row" - marking the first time that they've performed it together for an audience.
For fans, it was a dream moment. For Alan, the moment fulfilled a dream.
"I've been a fan of George for 20 years," Alan raved. "When I first came to Nashville in 1985, George Strait was the artist."
George had also - indirectly - changed Alan's life. Back in 1991, a young Alan had opened for George at the Iowa State Fair. "I sat back and watched his show," Alan recalls, "and listened to him sing his songs. It hit me where I was and what I was doing and I wanted to get better."
Alan also wanted to get to George's level. "He's my hero," Alan declared. "He doesn't do as many dates as I do - and can still go out, sell records and make his living. That's what I want to do, play a few dates and make some records and have fun."
George, who invited Alan to join him for his massive tour, returns the compliment. "I like Alan a lot, and love working with him. I just think he's a great country music writer and a great country music singer."
Alan adds, "George's music is one of the reasons I came to Nashville in the first place."
Now, more than 15 years later, Alan is sharing rewards with his hero. At last year's CMA Awards, George and Alan shocked industry trend-watchers by winning the Vocal Event Award for "Murder On Music Row."