JACKSON — It began simply.
The town of Jackson was going into a COVID-19 lockdown. And Tim McLaurin was bummed about not being able to see people and work.
So one day he was dancing to Beyonce’s “Single Ladies” near the Vertical Harvest greenhouse when a friend encouraged him to make a sign that read “Honk if my dance moves make your day, God Bless the USA.” And then he went to dance by the antler arches.
And that was that.
“Ever since, I’ve been dancing all summer long, all winter long,” McLaurin, 35, told the News&Guide. “I come out here every single day, and I just dance.”
McLaurin has danced when Town Square was quiet.
He’s danced when the square was loud.
He’s danced in the rain, he’s danced in snow and he’s danced every day for a year since March 31, 2020 — and he has no plans to stop dancing anytime soon.
“I just do what I do and I’ll keep on dancing and I won’t ever stop,” McLaurin said.
The Vertical Harvest farm associate has built a full-on alter ego as Jackson’s Biggest Rockstar. That’s a name McLaurin gave himself over the last year of boogying, doing so to brighten people’s days.
“I just felt like coming out here and putting a smile on everybody’s faces,” McLaurin said. “I wanted to do something awesome, to do something cool for Jackson and for all over the world because I care about everybody.”
With over 2,500 followers on Instagram, Jackson’s Biggest Rockstar has at the very least a national following.
Darius Rucker of Hootie and the Blowfish gave him an Instagram shoutout on March 10.
And then, to celebrate McLaurin’s one-year anniversary of burning up the downtown dance floor, Nikki Sixx got involved.
“Happy anniversary to Jackson’s Biggest Rock Star from Jackson’s second biggest rockstar,” the Motley Crue bassist and cofounder said in an Instagram video, congratulating McLaurin for dancing day-in and day-out throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I know a lot of people that have so much. They’re so ungrateful,” Sixx said in a subsequent interview with the News&Guide. “Tim, he works his ass off, takes time out of his day, and he goes out, not asking for money. He’s not asking for anything.
“And it inspires me. Really, it does,” Sixx said. “The world needs more people like that.”
Asked whether he worried Sixx’s decision to move to Jackson would threaten his title as Jackson’s Biggest Rockstar, McLaurin’s answer was flat.
“No,” he said.
And Sixx, a multi-platinum artist, knows he can’t compete.
“When he goes ‘I’m Jackson’s Biggest Rock Star,’ I go ‘Yes, you are,’” Sixx told the News&Guide. “So much about having a positive attitude and making positive change in your life is just claiming that moniker, claiming ‘I’m going to do this. This is what I am.’”
Though they haven’t yet met — the Motley Crue rocker said he’s “going to go over and see him one of these days” — it’s somewhat fortuitous that McLaurin and Sixx are talking on Instagram. McLaurin has been bumping Crue tunes on the square for the past year.
He dances to “Kickstart My Heart” and “Maybe It’s Time,” the song Sixx wrote with his new band Sixx A.M. to promote sobriety.
But he also jives to country music (Diamond Rio’s “Unbelievable” was the first song he performed to on Town Square) and pop artists like Pink.
“Country is good music,” McLaurin said. “Motley Crue, they’ve got awesome music and they know how to get the party started.”
Like the Crue, McLaurin has gotten the downtown party going. People celebrated with him for his one year anniversary of being Jackson’s Biggest Rockstar.
But McLaurin also remembered smaller moments of levity from his past year of holding court on the square. One was from a hot day last summer, when there was a hose nearby. McLaurin asked some girls to pick it up and help him out.
“I said, ‘OK, girls, turn it on!’” McLaurin remembered. They hosed him down.
“It was fun, by the way,” he said.
Bob McLaurin, a former town manager, is McLaurin’s father. He said he didn’t teach his son to dance (and he doesn’t necessarily love glam metal) but he’s happy to see him on the square.
“It just took off,” Bob McLaurin said of his son’s gig. “I’m proud of him, and he’s a fine man.”
The younger McLaurin said the lockdown blues made him think that “if a young man with Down syndrome could do something, I could do something.”
“I got the energy, I’m positive,” said McLaurin, who has Down syndrome. “I’m a guy who cares about everybody down here.”
And the community cares about him too.
Shane Hollingsworth, the owner of Tormack Custom Screen Printing, has made 15 or so shirts for McLaurin, who gives some away to thank people who support him.
Tom Fay, the owner of Pinky G’s, made the connection, and Hollingsworth has since had McLaurin call him whenever he wants shirts.
“He would call me at all hours of the day and talk about shirts and everything else,” Hollingsworth said. “It was just kind of nice to connect with someone like Timmy who’s got such a great outlook on life.”
Seeing McLaurin dance all year, Hollingsworth said, shows that “no matter what’s going on, you can always find a brighter side to life.”
“It makes people happy because he’s always got a smile on his face,” he said. “You can’t help but smile when you see him.”
McLaurin said that he sometimes gets “really emotional” when he dances, thinking about “everybody that comes down to support me, and that cares about me.
“Wow, you know what?” McLaurin said he thinks. “This is the best community ever.”
Where Jackson’s Biggest Rockstar will go in his second year remains to be seen.
But McLaurin knows what he wants — and this year, that’s guests.
Sixx could be one of them.
McLaurin also wouldn’t mind a dance party with Pink. And he’s got his sights set on busting a move with Midland, the country trio that will headline the Million Dollar Cowboy Bar’s upcoming Million Dollar Music Fest.
But whatever way the guest game goes, McLaurin doesn’t plan to stop dancing anytime soon.
The bio on his ever-more-popular Instagram page says it all.
“I’m here to stay,” it reads. “I’m gonna keep on dancing.”