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.
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. Herndon was hired in 1979, and the band has had the same four members ever since.
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.
The band was formed in 1969 by cousins Owen, Gentry, and Cook under the name Young Country. 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. 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.
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.
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. 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.
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.
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.
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.
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".
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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):
1980: "Tennessee River"; "Why Lady Why"
1981: "Old Flame"; "Feels So Right"; "Love in the First Degree"
1982: "Mountain Music"; "Take Me Down"; "Close Enough to Perfect"
1983: "Dixieland Delight"; "The Closer You Get"; "Lady Down on Love"
1984: "Roll On (Eighteen Wheeler)"; "When We Make Love"; "If You're Gonna Play in Texas (You Gotta Have a Fiddle in the Band)"
1985: "(There's A) Fire in the Night"; "There's No Way"; "40 Hour Week (For a Livin')"; "Can't Keep a Good Man Down"
1986: "She and I"; "Touch Me When We're Dancing"