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Alabama

Before Alabama, bands were usually relegated to a supporting role in country music. In the first part of the century, bands were popular with audiences across the country, but as recordings became available, nearly every popular recording artist was a vocalist, not a group. Alabama was the group that made country bands popular again. Emerging in the late '70s, the band had roots in both country and rock; in fact, many of Alabama's musical concepts, particularly the idea of a performing band, owed more to rock and pop than hardcore country. However, there is no denying that Alabama is a country band -- the bandmembers' pop instincts may come from rock, but their harmonies, songwriting, and approach are indebted to country, particularly the Bakersfield sound of Merle Haggard, bluegrass, and the sound of Nashville pop. A sleek, country-rock sound made the group the most popular country group in history, selling more records than any other artist of the '80s and earning stacks of awards.

First cousins Randy Owen (born December 14, 1949; lead vocal, rhythm guitar) and Teddy Gentry (born January 22, 1952; vocals, bass) form the core of Alabama. Owen and Gentry grew up on separate cotton farms on Lookout Mountain in Alabama, but the pair learned how to play guitar together; the duo had also sung in church together before they were six years old. On their own, Gentry and Owen played in a number of different bands during the '60s, playing country, bluegrass, and pop on different occasions. During high school, the duo teamed with another cousin, Jeff Cook (born August 27, 1949; lead guitar, vocals, keyboards, fiddle), to form Young Country in 1969. Before joining his cousins, Cook had played in a number of bands and was a rock & roll DJ. Young Country's first gig was at a high-school talent contest; performing a Merle Haggard song, the band won first prize -- a trip to the Grand Ole Opry. However, the group was fairly inactive as Owen and Cook went to college.

After Owen and Cook graduated from college, they moved with Gentry to Anniston, Alabama, with the intention of keeping the band together. Sharing an apartment, the band practiced at night and performed manual labor during the day. They changed their name to Wildcountry in 1972, adding drummer Bennet Vartanian to the lineup. The following year, they made the decision to become professional musicians, quitting their jobs and playing a number of bars in the Southeast. During this time, they began writing their own songs, including "My Home's in Alabama." Vartanian left soon after the band turned professional; after losing four more drummers, Rick Scott was added to the lineup in 1974.

Wildcountry changed its name to Alabama in 1977, the same year the band signed a one-record contract with GRT. The resulting single, "I Wanna Be with You Tonight," was a minor success, peaking in the Top 80. Nevertheless, the single's performance was an indication that Alabama was one of the most popular bands in the Southeast; at the end of the decade, the band was playing over 300 shows a year. After "I Wanna Be with You Tonight," the group borrowed $4,000 from a Fort Payne bank, using the money to record and release its own records, which were sold at shows. When GRT declared bankruptcy a year after the release of "I Wanna Be with You Tonight," the bandmembers discovered that they were forbidden from recording with another label because of a hidden clause in their contract. For two years, Alabama raised money to buy out their contract. In 1979, the group was finally able to begin recording again. That same year, Scott left the band. Scott was replaced by Mark Herndon, a former rock drummer who helped give Alabama their signature sound.

Later in 1979, Alabama self-recorded and released an album, hiring an independent record promoter to help get radio play for the single "I Wanna Come Over." The band also sent hundreds of hand-written letters to program directors and DJs across the country. "I Wanna Come Over" gained the attention of MDJ Records, a small label based in Dallas. MDJ released the single, and it reached number 33 on the charts. In 1980, MDJ released "My Home's in Alabama," which made it into the Top 20. Based on the single's success, Alabama performed at the Country Music New Faces show, where the band was spotted by an RCA Records talent scout, who signed the group after the show.

Alabama released its first RCA single, "Tennessee River," late in 1980. Produced by Harold Shedd, the song began a remarkable streak of 21 number one hits (interrupted by the 1982 holiday single "Christmas in Dixie"), which ran until 1987; after one number seven hit, the streak resumed for another six singles, resulting in a total of 27 number one singles during the decade. Taken alone, the amount of chart-topping singles is proof of Alabama's popularity, but the band also won numerous awards, had seven multi-platinum albums, and crossed over to the pop charts nine times during the '80s.

In the '90s, their popularity declined somewhat, yet they were still having hit singles and gold and platinum albums with regularity, and it's unlikely that any other country group will be able to surpass the success of Alabama. The group disbanded in 2006 following a farewell tour and two albums of gospel , 2006's Songs of Inspiration and 2007's Songs of Inspiration, Vol. 2, but reunited in 2011. A third gospel album, Angels Among Us: Hymns & Gospel Favorites, was released by Gaither Music in 2014. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine, Rovi
full bio

Selected Discography

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Track List: Livin' Lovin' Rockin' Rollin'

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Track List: Are You Sure Hank Done It This Way (Radio Single)

Comments

One of those southeast bars they played at was The Bowery here in Myrtle Beach South Carolina.
infinititomb o m b
Horrible. Corny.
I am born in bred in the south. Florida everglades . This is the song of the south
Confederate confirmed
Kiss your left hand
Say your crushes name
Close your hand
Pick a school day
Say your name
Post this on 15 different songs and the day you chose your crush will ask you out
lifer_love
One of my favorite songs from Alabama!!!! Oh so right!
Love the radio show on Saturday mornings.
Fuckig best band there ever was
Kiss your hand 5times
Say your crushes name 20 times post this on 2 other songs then your crush will ask you out
We. Played forever is
At our wedding.
rshears17brs
love this song
rshears17brs
roll on 18 weallre
109017puffer
Kiss your hand 5 times
Say your crush name 20 times
Post this on 2 songs
Then your crush will ask you out
Kiss your hand 5 times
Say your crushes name 20 times
Post this on 2 songs
Then your crush will ask you oit
Not a bad song but the instrumental section drags on far too long
Love this song great group great memories. Thanks
Totally. Awesome group wish they was still playing
F6
Just thought this was intresting but I found out im a relitive of Randy Owens
Man u really don't know what you have till it's gone. My little minkie left and I don't know how to live without her. I'm lost. The term broken heart came because when your heart broken it actually hurts in your torso. I wish I did all i had planned earlier. There is not another like her and I'm lost,complet e l y
Don't read this because it actually works. You will be kissed on the nearest Friday by the love of your life. However, if you do not post this you will die in two days. Now that you started reading, don't stop. This is scary so put it on at least five songs in the next 134 minutes. When you are done, press F6 on your key board and your lovers name will come up in big letters. This is scary because it actually works.
I love 'em.I'm only a kid but I still know what's good.
wesaldag
My lady loves this song
Dang good band hard to beet
Excellent band. Have seen probably 20 times and would see again
catparker5
No one will ever top Alabama. i love this band would pay to see them and buy their music.
I love Alabama there awesome
The ambassadors of our SOUTHERN ways,
None have set a better example.
cindyh54143
You fall in love the minute the right one says hello....
I grew up listening to them, please tour so i can see u!!!!
decemberdrea m 4 7
Great harmony love this group
I can remember when they first started out. They used to play in highschools. Remember cause my two oldest were in HS then, saw them play. Wish I had gone then, they are retired now...
Kay endrizzi
I love too hear that song
I'm in the Heart of Dixie. Dixie's in the heart of me...... nuff said. Roll Tide!!!
I love song of the south! Perfection
softball-4ev e r
Awesomely country band ever!!:)
Alabama is one Awesome ol' bunch of fellas!
Good band of country music
��
Christi Bloomfield likes it
tommywhite7
You just need to shut up ktoddworth that's stupid you should keep that comment to yourself
tommywhite7
I don't know what I would do without you I went to one of your concert wi
alabama rocks love you hunter loves country off
im glad i live in alabama
You will be kissed by your crush if you post this on 5 different songs but if you don't you will get embarrassed in front of you crush or your crush will date someone else
gianthunt01
The best band ever!!!
Sing it Oklahoma is where I want to be
Texans����
this song has lots of meaning. you a**holes dont know s**t
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