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TOP 5

Alan Jackson has made it a personal cause to get Nashville to recognize music pioneers and his influences. Here are five of his favorites:

George Jones: The man known as "No-Show" Jones, 69, has been making music nearly five decades. He was married to another legend, the late Tammy Wynette. Jones has survived drugs, alcohol and his own self-destructive personality. He still makes records and tours.

Merle Haggard: Haggard's gritty, down-home sound has long been a trademark of traditional country music. He is best remembered by some for his anti-hippie hit, "Oakie From Muskogee." Haggard, 63, still records and tours.

Johnny Cash: He was around in the early days at Sun Records along with such rockers as Elvis, Jerry Lee Lewis and Roy Orbison. Long abandoned by Nashville, Cash has suffered physical problems in recent years, but his latest albums, made with metal and rap producer Rick Rubin, have been critical successes. Cash gained publicity a few years ago when he took out a full-page ad in Billboard magazine and held up one finger in a message directed at Nashville's establishment.

Gene Watson: Texas honky-tonker Watson, 57, offers influences of Lefty Frizzell and Ernest Tubb in his music. His country hits include "Paper Rosie," "Farewell Party" and "Don't Waste It on the Blues."

Conway Twitty: Born Harold Jenkins, the late country singer turned out a steady stream of Top 10 hits during the '60s, '70s and '80s. He had 30 consecutive No. 1 country songs between 1968 and 1977. His first hit came in the 1950s, with an Elvis sound-a-like called, "It's Only Make Believe." Twitty, 59, died in 1993.

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