« Avenged Sevenfold to open new venue in Madison, Wisconsin | Main | Rolling Stones spinoff group Stones Throw to perform at Memphis' Mempho Music Festival in October »

Watch now: How a then-unknown Jake Owen managed to make it onstage at CMA Fest with Hank Jr. 

CMAJake Owen’s come a long way since the first time he attended the country festival formerly known as Fan Fair.  This weekend, he played his top-ten tribute to John Mellencamp, “I Was Jack (You Were Diane),” on the main stage at Nashville’s Nissan Stadium.  Back then, he was just starting out.

“The first year I was here, [after] I moved to town, I hadn't even gotten a record deal yet,” he recalls. “So I just went over to the fairgrounds with some friends and drank some beers and watch Hank [Williams] Junior.”

“And then, the cool part was, the first year that I got a record deal, Hank Jr. played the stadium, and I was backstage,” he continues. “There was a [radio] guy [backstage]....and he said, 'Do you want to introduce Hank Jr. with me?' And I couldn't believe it, because the year before I'd seen Hank play, and then I got to introduce him. And I was a nobody.”

Jake’s latest hit -- and update on the classic “Jack & Diane -- has the Mellencamp seal of approval. And Jake admits it’s also the perfect set-up to potentially get to sing with his hero one day.

“Shoot, I sure hope so,” he says of the possibility. “I mean, I love John Mellencamp, I always have.”

“I never have and never will ever pressure or try to get him to do anything,” he adds. “He's done enough in his career and life that he definitely doesn't need me to do anything. So if he ever wanted to do something, I'd be happy to do it, but as of now, I'm just happy that I can shine a light on something like that.” 

You can check out Jake’s CMA Fest version of “I Was Jack (You Were Diane)” when ABC’s annual three-hour special airs Wednesday, August 8, starting at 8 p.m. ET.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

ABC News Radio