Foxworthy gets unusual Hall of Fame nod

When legendary stand-up comic Jeff Foxworthy was informed earlier this year that he is being inducted into the Georgia Music Hall of Fame, he was befuddled.

“I told them, ‘You know, I’m not a musician, right?’ ” he said.

But the Grammys, he was told, have a spoken-word category. Foxworthy, who lives in Alpharetta, has sold more comedy records and CDs than anybody else since SoundScan began tracking sales in 1991. His albums “Games Rednecks Play” and “You Might Be a Redneck If…” have sold more than 2 million copies each.

“My wife tells me that I’ll always keep that record because nobody buys records anymore,” he said.

This is not the first time Foxworthy has been honored by a musical organization. The Academy of Country Music in 1996 gave him a special achievement award for his comedy sales.

“Growing up in Hapeville, you don’t think you’d be in a Hall of Fame for anything,” Foxworthy said. “I get embarrassed being recognized like this. It’s a little weird to me. At the same time, it’s really cool. I’m very flattered by it all.”

At Saturday’s ceremonies at the Georgia World Congress Center, he plans to do stand-up but don’t expect any crooning.

“Every comedian I know wants to secretly be a musician,” he said. “We tell jokes because we can’t sing! When I sing, people pledge money to find a cure to find out what’s wrong with me!”

Foxworthy said he once did a bunch of jokes about the Olympics coming to Atlanta, and Georgian country star Alan Jackson put it to music. “We did this video together,” he said. “He had me sing with him. At the end of the day, I said, ‘We should go on the road and both perform!’ Alan said, ‘Well, you can sing all you want, but we’re unplugging your mic!’ “

Late last year, Foxworthy faced the first medical crisis in his life. Nearly two decades ago, he hurt his neck taping his sitcom. “It’s hurt forever,” he said. “It became just one of those things. I’m on the road. I’m busy. I’d just go to the chiropractor if it got too bad.”

Then last December, the 56-year-old said he felt like he was having a heart attack. “My arm would go numb,” he said. “I’d sweat.” But his doctor said his heart was in great shape. They finally figured out it was a bad disc in his neck.

On Jan. 7, he was supposed to do be a guest on one of Jay Leno’s final “Tonight Show” tapings. “I had done that show 35 times,” Foxworthy said. “I wanted to publicly thank him.”

But on his way to Hartsfield-Jackson, he became incredibly nauseous, tears rolling down his face as he writhed in pain. He had to cancel the trip and his Leno appearance. “Until then,” he said, “I had never missed a show, didn’t have a cold forever.”

He had neck surgery in February, then spent several months recuperating.

He had to limit his movement and couldn’t pick up anything heavier than 5 pounds for several months. “I’m usually on a tractor when I’m not working, so it was tough to just sit around,” he said. “Only in August did I start feeling normal again.”

Foxworthy spent his off time binge reading books he had never had time to read. He also created a lot of pen-and-ink drawings with funny captions, something he might turn into a book.

The time off, he said, has reinvigorated his creative mind.

“I’ve written more in the past month or two than I had in the past five years,” he said. “This has been almost like hitting the reset button.”

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