Alabama (band): Wikis

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Alabama

Autographed photo of Alabama
Background information
Also known as Young Country
Wildcountry
Origin Fort Payne, Alabama, U.S.
Genres Country, Southern rock
Years active 1972-present
Labels GRT
MDJ
RCA
Associated acts Cook & Glenn, Juice Newton
Website www.thealabamaband.com
Members
Jeff Cook
Mark Herndon
Randy Owen
Teddy Gentry

Alabama is a Grammy Award-winning country music and southern rock band that originated in Fort Payne, Alabama, United States. In the late '60s, Randy Owen (lead vocals), and his cousin Teddy Gentry (bass guitar, background vocals) found they both enjoyed a common interest in music. Jeff Cook (guitar, fiddle, keyboards) soon joined the duo, and eventually Mark Herndon added his skills on drums. They started playing on a regular basis, and while still working their day jobs they started playing local establishments in the evenings. The group used their spare time to compose, practice, and play their style of harmony and music. In 1973, after Owen's graduation from Jacksonville State University, members of the group decided to give up their day jobs and weekend gigs. The group, formerly known as "Wildcountry", left Fort Payne and their Lookout Mountain to explore the possibilities of the club scene in surrounding coastal South Carolina.[1]

They were the most commercially successful country act in the 1980s and remain one of the bestselling American musical acts of all time. The band is often credited with bringing country music groups (as opposed to solo vocalists) into the mainstream, paving the way for the success of today's top country groups. Since its foundation in 1972, Alabama has included Owen, Cook and Gentry.[1] Herndon was hired in 1979, and the band has had the same four members ever since.[citation needed]

The band's blend of traditional country music and southern rock combined with elements of gospel music, and pop music gave it a crossover appeal that helped lead to their unprecedented success. They also toured extensively and incorporated production elements such as lighting and "sets" inspired by rock concerts into their shows. The band has over 30 number one country records on the Billboard Magazine charts to their credit and have sold over 73 million records to date.[2]

Contents

History

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Origins

The band was formed in 1969 by cousins Owen, Gentry, and Cook under the name Young Country.[3] Their first gig was playing for a high school talent contest for which they won first prize—a trip to the Grand Ole Opry. The band took a break while Owen and Cook attended college, and then in 1972 the band reunited in Anniston, Alabama, using the name Wildcountry.[3] In 1973 they decided to make the band a professional career, quit their day jobs and began playing in clubs across the Southeast. Most-famously, they performed at the Myrtle Beach, South Carolina nightspot, The Bowery. Over the next few years, the band would choose the name "Alabama" for their band, add drummer Mark Herndon, and set their sights on Nashville.[1]

From 1974 through 1977, the band went through five drummers. In 1977, they signed a one-album recording contract with GRT (General Recorded Tape, Inc.), and changed their name to Alabama. Their single, "I Wanna Be With You Tonight", broke the Top 80. A year later GRT declared bankruptcy. Surprised to find that a contractual clause forbade them from recording with another label, the band bought out their contract, working for more than a year to raise the funds.

By 1979 Alabama was free to record again. The drummer quit, however and Owen, Gentry, and Cook hired former rock-band drummer Mark Herndon. These four musicians remained as the core of the band for the rest of its career.

Also in 1979, the band self-recorded an album and hired a promoter to help get radio airplay for their single, "I Wanna Come Over". Dallas, Texas-based MDJ Records agreed to release the single, which peaked at 33 on Billboard's country chart. The follow-up, "My Home's in Alabama", became their signature song and reached the Top 20 in March 1980. Both songs are on their first album, My Home's in Alabama.

The 1980's

My Home's in Alabama

The lead-off single to their first album for RCA "I Wanna Come Over" reached #33 on the US Country Charts in 1979. Finally in 1980, the album's title track, which still remains one of their most popular songs to date reached #17. Then finally, "Tennessee River" was released, thus becoming their first number-one hit. "Why Lady Why" also went to #1.

In 1980, after appearing on the New Faces Show at the Country Radio Seminar, (which also featured newcomer Reba McEntire), RCA's Joe Galante came back to his office raving about a young band he'd seen.[1] With the marketing and distribution power of their new label behind them, Alabama soon shot to the top of the country record charts.

Feels So Right

Their 1981 album produced the singles "Old Flame", "Feels So Right", and "Love in the First Degree". All three went to number-one.

They also performed on the hit TV series "Barbara Mandrell and the Mandrell sisters", created by Sid and Marty Krofft in 1981.

Mountain Music

Their 1982 album produced the singles "Mountain Music", "Take Me Down", and "Close Enough to Perfect". All three of these reached number-one as well.

Alabama Christmas

Their popular holiday single "Christmas in Dixie" went to #35, and still remains a holiday favorite during Christmas time.

The Closer You Get...

Their 1983 album produced the singles "Dixieland Delight", "The Closer You Get", and "Lady Down on Love". These also reached number-one.

Roll On

Their 1984 album produced the singles "Roll On (Eighteen Wheeler)", "When We Make Love", "If You're Gonna Play in Texas (You Gotta Have a Fiddle in the Band)", and "(There's A) Fire in the Night". All were number-one hits as well.

40 Hour Week

Their 1985 album produced the singles "There's No Way", "40 Hour Week (For a Livin')", and "Can't Keep a Good Man Down". All were also number-one hits.

Greatest Hits

They released their first Greatest Hits album in 1986, which included the new song "She and I", which was released as a single, and went to number-one.

Alabama's dominance in the early- and mid-1980s is evidenced by 21 of their single releases having reached number-one on Billboard's country singles chart. This streak also included a holiday single called "Christmas in Dixie", which ranked in the low Top 40's. The flip side of this single was Louise Mandrell and RC Bannon singing "Christmas is Just a Song for Us This Year".

The Touch

Their 1986 studio album only produced two singles "Touch Me When We're Dancing", and "'You've Got' the Touch". But they both went to number-one.

Even though Christmas singles that don't make number-one are usually disregarded when determining chart-topping streaks, the longest streak of consecutive number-one singles is frequently attributed to Alabama.

Also, Lionel Richie's 1987 single, "Deep River Woman", featured harmony vocals from Alabama and peaked at number 10.

Just Us

The lead-off single to their 1987 album "Tar Top" broke their long streak of 21 number-one singles when it peaked at #7. However, the single remained a favorite as it told the band's story, such as playing in the Bowery club in Myrtle Beach, SC. The album's next two singles "Face to Face" and "Fallin' Again" (the former a duet with K.T. Oslin) went to number-one.

Southern Star

Their 1989 album produced four singles, which were "Song of the South", "If I Had You", "High Cotton", and "Southern Star". All four went to number one.

The 1990's

Pass It On Down

They began the 1990s with their 1990 album, which produced the title track, which was a #3. The album's next three singles "Jukebox in My Mind", Forever's as Far as I'll Go", and "Down Home" were number-one hits. The album's fifth single "Here We Are" was a #2.

Greatest Hits Vol. II

They released their second Greatest Hits package in 1991, which included two new songs that were singles "Then Again" a #4, and "Born Country" a #2.

American Pride

Their 1992 album produced four singles "Take a Little Trip" a #2, "I'm In a Hurry (And Don't Know Why)" another number-one hit, and "Once Upon a Lifetime" and "Hometown Honeymoon" were both #3.

Cheap Seats

The lead-off single to their 1993 album "Reckless" became their last number-one hit. The album's next two singles were "T.L.C. A.S.A.P." a #7, and "The Cheap Seats" a #13. "Angels Among Us" charted at #28 from unsolicted airplay as a partial Christmas single.

Greatest Hits Vol. III

They released their third Greatest Hits package in 1994. It produced the two new singles from it "We Can't Love Like This Anymore" a #6, and "Give Me One More Shot" a #3.

In Pictures

Their 1995 album produced the singles "She Ain't Your Ordinary Girl" a #2, "In Pictures" a #4, "It Works" a #19, "Say I" a #38, and "The Maker Said Take Her" a #4.

Dancin' on the Boulevard

Their 1997 album produced the singles "Sad Lookin' Moon" a #2, "Dancin', Shaggin' on the Boulevard" a #3, "Of Course I'm Alright" a #22, and "She's Got That Look in Her Eyes" a #21.

For The Record

Their 1998 compilation album included the two new singles "How Do You Fall in Love" a #2, and "Keepin' Up" a #14.

Twentieth Century

Their 1999 album produced the lead-off single, which was a cover of the N'SYNC pop hit called "God Must Have Spent a Little More Time On You" which provided harmony vocals by N'SYNC, and it peaked at #3, and was Alabama's last top ten hit. The next three singles were "Small Stuff" a #24, "We Made Love" a #63, and "Twentieth Century" a #51.

The 2000's

When It All Goes South

The lead-off single to their 2001 album "When It All Goes South" was released in late-2000, and peaked at #15 in early-2001, and was the band's last top 40 hit. The album had two more singles. "Will You Marry Me", which was a duet with Jann Arden peaked at #41, while "The Woman He Loves" failed to chart.

In the Mood: The Love Songs

The lead-off single to their 2003 compilation album "I'm in the Mood" was released in late-2002, and it peaked at #48. It was their last single to date.

Number one singles

The No. 1 hits continued through April 1987, when "(You've Got) 'The Touch'" became their 21st chart-topper. After "Tar Top" peaked at No. 7 in the fall of 1987, Alabama started a new No. 1 string of six straight, and went on to have five more No. 1 hits through 1993's "Reckless."

For the record, the 32 No. 1 songs according to Billboard magazine's country singles chart are as follows (other #1 singles from other trade magazines are not listed here):

While 32 songs reached the summit in Billboard magazine, the band's official website acknowledges 41 of its songs reached the top of the various charts (which included Cash Box, Gavin Report, Radio & Records, among others). Conversely, some of the songs that topped Billboard did not necessarily top these other charts. Furthermore, a best-of album, titled For the Record: 41 Number One Hits, was released.

Those songs that went the distance on other charts, but not Billboard (although all were top five hits on the Billboard chart), are "Here We Are" and "Then Again" (1991); "Born Country" and "Take A Little Trip" (1992); "Once Upon a Lifetime" (1993); "Give Me One More Shot," "She Ain't Your Ordinary Girl" and "In Pictures" (1995); "Sad Lookin' Moon" (1997); and "How Do You Fall In Love" (1998).

The band also recorded an original song for the 1985 children's film Sesame Street Presents: Follow that Bird called "All Together Now". While the song is only heard briefly in the film (on a car radio), it is available on the film's soundtrack.

Farewell tour

In May 2002, the band announced its "Farewell Tour", which took place across the USA during 2003 and 2004. They are now retired from touring, but released two albums of inspirational music in 2006 and 2007.

Teddy Gentry has produced albums for various artists, most notably Emerson Drive (Countrified) and Collin Raye (Selected Hits).

Jeff Cook now performs with the Allstar Goodtime Band.

Awards

Academy of Country Music

Country Music Association

Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum

Grammy Awards

Vocal Group Hall of Fame

Lawsuit filed against Mark Herndon

On May 9, 2008 the other members of the group sued drummer Mark Herndon for $202,670 in money allegedly overpaid to him three years earlier after the band's farewell tour concluded. This money was allegedly factored into the net profit and given to Herndon before accounting was completed, an allegation Herndon has denied. The band did not sue Herndon until he requested money from the multiple live albums and songs that the band had released but never paid Herndon for playing on. By filing the lawsuit, Alabama band attorneys mistakenly included copies of band contracts as exhibits along with their lawsuit papers, thus allowing fans a chance to look at the inner workings of the band and revealing that Herndon actually had a contractual full band share of the farewell tour.[4]

Giving back

From 1982 until 1997, Alabama held an annual "Alabama June Jam" in Fort Payne, Alabama. Proceeds from these events were distributed to various charities and school organizations and have also been used to set up an escrow account which continues to distribute money to worthy causes. Each of the band members is also active in fundraising for a charity of his choice, and several of them have set up their own charitable foundations.

In honor of their good works, the group has been the recipient of the Bob Hope Humanitarian Award, Country Radio Broadcasters' Humanitarian Award, and the Minnie Pearl Humanitarian Award. Alabama was also awarded the B.M.I. President's Trophy for Public Service, which has been awarded only four times (and never before to a group). They were also the inaugural recipients of the "Spirit of Alabama" medal awarded by Governor Bob Riley.

In their live shows, Alabama often made a point of recognizing the men and women in America's Armed Forces. They have volunteered to visit injured soldiers at military hospitals, and have participated in the "Laying of the Wreath" ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery. For their efforts, they have been awarded the USO Rising Star Award and the Pentagon 9/11 Medallion.

Owen, and his wife Kelly Owen, were the primary benefactors for the construction of the Kelly Owen Women's and Children's Pavilion at DeKalb Regional Medical Center in Fort Payne, which was at the time a charitably-operated hospital of Baptist Health System of Alabama.

Musical stylings

Randy always sang lead on all of the group's singles, except for "Mountain Music", where Jeff and Teddy each contribute a line. However, several album cuts featured either Teddy or Jeff singing lead.

Discography

See also

References

External links


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