Next year, Jason Aldean will celebrate 20 years since he debuted with "Hicktown." He may owe Big & Rich a phone call or a thank you gift.

The pair were instrumental to helping Aldean — then a struggling songwriter — launch. "Those were my boys back in the day," he says of Big Kenny Alphin and John Rich.

  • "Hicktown" debuted on Billboard's Country Airplay chart in April 2005.
  • His self-titled album dropped that July.
  • "Hicktown" is Aldean's second most-played song live, after "She's Country" (per

"I used to watch ‘em go do MuzikMafia stuff. And I kind of ran with some of those guys back in the day and used to write with John Rich," the "Let Your Boys Be Country" singer adds.

The MuzikMafia were a group of songwriters and artists that started a small collective in 2001. Big & Rich and Gretchen Wilson became the most famous members. James Otto was another who had a hit.

Country Weekly
Country Weekly

Aldean's name has not often been attached to the group, even though it's clear he worked with various members. Alphin, Rich and Vicky McGehee wrote "Hicktown" and either Alphin, Rich or both helped write each of Aldean's first four singles, including the No. 1 song "Why."

The former Pepsi truck driver was famously ready to give up on his music dream before signing to Broken Bow Records, a new independent label without much of a track record. He says he dreamed of international fame but never really believed it was possible, especially in 2005.

“Dude, I was starving. I had a brand-new baby. My oldest daughter was born. Didn’t have any money. I wasn’t thinking long-term, I was thinking, ‘I need to get this song going so I can generate some money to keep from losing my house.”

With 25 No. 1 hits and 38 Top 10 singles, his house is safe. Twenty years into the business actually makes him eligible for another honor: the Country Music Hall of Fame.

“That’s not for me to decide,” Aldean says. “If it happens, cool. If it doesn’t, that sucks. But it’s been fun.”

Billy Dukes is a Senior Editor and Executive Producer of Video Content at Taste of Country. He specializes in country music interviews, trend analysis and the Secret History of Country Music. Additionally, Billy covers Yellowstone, 1923 and related television shows through the Dutton Rules podcast. To date, he's written more than 13,000 articles for Taste of Country and produced over 3,000 videos for the Taste of Country YouTube channel.

Top 50 Jason Aldean Songs: His Greatest Hits + Best Deep Cuts

The best Jason Aldean songs are spread out among his 11 studio albums. Find singles and deep cuts from his self-titled debut album high on this list, right alongside more recent hits and duets from Macon and Georgia.

Taste of Country asked readers for input and did a deep dive into Aldeans' full catalog of songs to identify those worthy of this top songs list, and those that simply aren't. Spoiler alert: A few radio singles are missing, and several album tracks rank inside the Top 20. Sales and chart success helped us round out the Top 50. Do you agree with No. 1?

PICTURES: See Inside Jason Aldean's Spectacular Rural Castle

Jason Aldean lived the good life in his stunning mansion outside of Nashville, which resembled a rural castle.

Gallery Credit: Sterling Whitaker

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