Guest Author - Kathy Lyngholm
If you are new to country or have just been living under a rock somewhere and havenít heard of the super group Alabama, you are missing out. Though the group has officially retired and isnít touring any longer, their music is still a wonderful thing to enjoy.
Alabama was first formed in 1969 under the name Young Country then changed their name in 1972 to Wildcountry before finally settling on Alabama in 1977. Randy Owen and Teddy Gentry, cousins, grew up together and learned to play guitar growing up. Jeff Cook, another cousin, joined the two in high school and the started performing together as Young Country. Mark Herndon joined the group in 1979 as the drummer who would stay with them through the rest of their career as a group.
Alabama wasnít discovered overnight, it took years of playing the club circuit and recording their songs to sell at their gigs before they were discovered by an RCA talent agent. History was going to be made when the group received the support of a major record label, their first hit Tennessee River was released in 1980 and was the stepping stone to the groups unsurpassed record of 21 number 1 singles. Not only did they amass those number 1ís but they also had cross over success on the pop charts nine times in the 1980ís.
While Alabama isnít touring anymore, they are still one of the major success stories for groups in country music to date. They opened the door for other groups to enjoy fame when groups were not the ďinĒ thing in country. The group came along right after the ďUrban CowboyĒ phase was dying down and country fans were looking for something new and exciting. To see Alabama in concert was a treat, I have been lucky enough to see them at least a dozen times during their career and each show was dynamic and full of energy. Randy Owen was the front man most of the time, though Jeff Cook and Teddy Gentry both had their time with lead vocals through the years. Randy, Jeff and Teddy didnít stand in one place, they put on a show that kept the audience entertained years before Garth Brooks came along. You seriously had to wonder how much caffeine those guys had before the show considering the running around and interaction with the audience they had.
Randy Owen is now doing some solo work, Jeff Cook has his own band (Cook & Glenn), you donít hear very much about Teddy Gentry or Mark Herndon anymore, they seem to be enjoying retirement and keeping a low profile after more than 20 years on the road.