April 20, 2013
In the early eighties, a new kind of country band surfaced, structured like the rock bands that came before them, but deeply grounded in country instrumentation. Alabama were the pioneers of the field, and they reached a level of superstardom beyond most bands of any genre during their peak.
Three of the four members of Alabama are cousins from the band's namesake state, though Jeff Cook, Teddy Gentry, and Randy Owen first began performing as Young Country in 1969. The band went through a series of day jobs and a series of drummers while honing their sound on the local music circuit in Alabama and neighboring states. After switching to Wildcountry in 1972, and settling on Rick Scott as their drummer in 1974, they finally took the name Alabama in 1977.
A series of minor hits on an independent label led to a contract with RCA, after a final lineup change replaced Scott with Mark Herndon. When the band broke in 1980 with the top twenty hit “My Home's in Alabama”, what followed set a new bar for commercial success in country music. The band scored a record consecutive 21 #1 hits, became the first act to win CMA Entertainer of the Year three times in a row, and released several multi-platinum albums, including the five million-selling Mountain Music in 1982.
Their success opened the floodgates for other country bands, eventually replacing vocal groups as the dominant non-solo sound in the genre. Though they didn't receive much critical acclaim for their work, their relevance on the
commercial front was undeniable. Even as a wave of new acts in the nineties again raised the bar for what country acts could achieve, Alabama remained successful, consistently selling gold and platinum while radio continued to play their hits.
At the turn of the century, the band slowed down, even doing a farewell tour. They still released music, however, scoring their first #1 country album in 17 years with Songs of Inspiration in 2006. They also returned to the penthouse of the singles chart in 2011, scoring their 34th #1 single in support of Brad Paisley's “Old Alabama.”
They are currently recording and performing as a trio, with Herndon departing the group after a rift over royalties that led to a lawsuit. They were inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2005, and returned to the stage in 2013 for a fortieth anniversary tour.
- Tennessee River, 1980
- Love in the First Degree, 1981
- Mountain Music, 1982
- The Closer You Get, 1983
- Forty Hour Week (For a Livin'), 1985
- Song of the South, 1988
- I'm in a Hurry (and Don't Know Why), 1992
- How Do You Fall in Love, 1998
- Feels So Right, 1981
- Mountain Music, 1982
- The Closer You Get…, 1983
- Roll On, 1984
- 40 Hour Week, 1985
- Southern Star, 1989
- Dancin', Shaggin' on the Boulevard, 1997
- Songs of Inspiration, 2006
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