Tuesday, November 15th, 2005 Alabama’s induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame caps one of the most astounding success stories in American entertainment. With a career that to date has resulted in 21 gold, platinum and multi-platinum albums, 42 number one singles and over 73 million records sold, Alabama has received over 150 industry awards including 8 country music “Entertainer of the Year” honors, 2 Grammys, 2 People’s Choice Awards and their very own star on the “Hollywood Walk of Fame.” They were named the “Artist of the Decade” by the Academy of Country Music in 1989 and “Country Group of the Century” by the Recording Industry Association of America in 1999. Theirs is an amazing career, stretching across more than two decades and for three of the guys, it’s been more than 30 years.
In the late ’60s, cousins Randy Owen and Teddy Gentry discovered they shared a common interest in music. Joined by Jeff Cook, they started playing on a regular basis. Working their day jobs and playing any place they could locally in the evenings, the boys in the band used what limited spare time they had to compose and practice their unique style of harmony.
On April 21, 1980, Alabama signed with industry giant RCA, the label that turned the likes of Elvis Presley into a megastar and cultural icon. The label quickly pressed Alabama’s autobiographical anthem “My Home’s in Alabama” as a single. That May, RCA Records issued “Tennessee River” as the first No. 1 Alabama hit. Starting with “Tennessee River”, they would rack up a string of 21 consecutive number-one hits. 21 more would follow, rewarding the band with 42 number one singles. Alabama became, seemingly overnight, a driving force in country music, essentially changing it forever.
Alabama’s career sales have topped 73 million records. This ranks it as one of the 10 biggest-selling bands in the annals of popular music and ahead of such rock greats as Led Zeppelin, The Doors, Queen, Pink Floyd and The Who. Alabama has more No. 1 records than any band in country-music history and has sold more concert tickets than any other country group. Seventeen of its albums are Platinum sellers. Mountain Music, released in 1982, is Quintuple Platinum, as is 1986’s Greatest Hits. Roll On (1984), The Closer You Get (1983) and Feels So Right (1981) are all Quadruple Platinum. Christmas (1985), Greatest Hits III (1994), 40 Hour Week (1985) and the act’s debut album, 1980’s My Home’s In Alabama, were joined by For the Record as Double Platinum sellers.
In May 2002, Alabama stunned the world, announcing to Dick Clark during the Academy of Country Music Awards telecast plans for a Farewell Tour in 2003. It hardly seems possible. But, true to the form we’ve come to expect from Randy Owen, Teddy Gentry, Jeff Cook and Mark Herndon, they’ve made their departure from touring with class and grace. Every night’s American Farewell Tour show was unique, reflecting new, live interpretations and arrangements of the band’s long list of hits in their set list. Each show was specially tailored for that particular night and that particular audience.