Country Music Hall of Fame YouTube Channel
With numerous hit songs to his name and a career that only continues to grow, one song of Blake Shelton‘s has truly stood the test of time.
“Ol’ Red” was originally recorded in 1990 by George Jones and was then covered by Kenny Rogers in 1993, but Shelton’s version of the song remains the most memorable. He released his version in 2002 off of his debut album, and met immense chart success. The song broke into the Top 20 to claim the 14th spot on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart, and claimed the 49th spot on the Billboard year-end country chart for 2002.While “Ol’ Red” was not a number one hit for Shelton, he has always considered it to be his signature song, and it’s been an essential part of his concerts for years.
As Shelton prepared for the opening of his exhibit at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum on Friday (May 27), he stopped to reflect on the meaning behind one of the items on display. Although all of the artifacts in Shelton’s exhibit are special parts of his story, none are more important to him than a gift he received on his 18th birthday from a major country star at the time.
Hoyt Axton was known for his powerful voice and talents as a songwriter, and was one of the most respected people in country music. Shelton ended up meeting Axton while doing some work for his mother, and that’s when he received the special gift that now sits in his exhibit in the Hall of Fame.
“My favorite thing…has to be the knife that Hoyt Axton gave me on my eighteenth birthday…it was only about a week or two after I moved to Nashville in 1994,” Shelton said, going on to describe how Axton gave him the knife, which had been made out of railroad railings.
After Axton handed Shelton his present and explained the story behind it, he decided to play a song for him like he had many times before. But this song stuck with Shelton more than any other he heard Axton sing…it was “Ol’ Red.”
“I never forgot it. I guess it was almost ten years later that it became one of my biggest hits. It’s just crazy that I found possibly what my signature song ended up being in my career only a week or two after I moved to Nashville.”
Needless to say, Axton changed Shelton’s life in more ways than one. You can watch Shelton talk more about the story behind “Ol’ Red” in the video below.