Alabama

  • Country band formed in 1969 in Fort Payne AL. Founding members were Randy Owen (lead vocals, guitar) and his cousin Teddy Gentry (bass guitar, vocals). They were soon joined by their other cousin, Jeff Cook (lead guitar, fiddle, keyboards). In 1992, drummer Bennett Vartanian joined the band, and they became professional, under the name Wildcountry.
  • Initially, they played at a theme park, backing established country stars. By 1973, they began playing at bars in the Southeast, eventually playing at a bar 6 nights a week in Myrtle Beach SC. They went through several drummers, then settled on Rick Scott. They borrowed money to make an album that they would sell at their shows.
  • Demo tapes were sent to record companies, and eventually, one showed interest and signed them to a one-record contract. The record company changed their name to The Alabama Band, later shortened to Alabama.
  • They released their debut single, I Want to Be with You Tonight, in 1977. The song did not chart well, and the record company went bankrupt. Their contract forbid them from recording with another company for 2 years, so they began recording again in 1979. A new drummer, Mark Herndon, joined the band, and their single I Wanna Come Over reached the Top 40 on the Country charts.
  • By 1980, they signed with RCA Records, and their first single with RCA, Tennessee River, reached #1 on the Country charts. This began a streak of 33 #1 country hits.
  • They have released 23 studio albums and 65 singles. All 9 albums in the 80s went platinum, and 5 albums in the 90s also went platinum. Their Greatest Hits album released in 1986 and another Greatest Hits album released in 1998 both sold over 5 million copies. Of their many hits, the highest charting songs on the Billboard Hot 100 list were Love In the First Degree and Take Me Down.
  • By 2002, they announced their farewell tour. The tour was so popular, the band added dates and venues, extending the tour to June 2004. They did a benefit concert in 2011, then scheduled a series of performances in 2013 in celebration of their 40th anniversary. The band continues to occasionally perform today, although Jeff Cook announced in April this year that he would no longer play as he is fighting Parkinson disease and it has become too difficult to play guitar or fiddle.
  • The band has won 2 Grammy awards, for Best Country Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal, for Mountain Music and The Closer You Get. They are the most awarded band in the history of country music, with over 200 awards from various organizations.
  • Alabama music is a mixture of country, rock and pop, with a heavy use of harmony (as all good country music does). They were one of the first country bands that was successful as a crossover to pop and rock music. To me…they are one of the defining sounds of country music in the 80s and early 90s. Here’s their video for Song of the South from 1988.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.