Alabama was a Grammy Award-winning country music and southern rock band from Fort Payne, Alabama, United States. The band was founded in 1969 by Randy Owen and his cousin Teddy Gentry, soon joined by Jeff Cook. In 1973, after Owen’s graduation from Jacksonville State University, they gave up their day jobs and weekend gigs. The group, formerly known as “Wildcountry”, left Fort Payne and 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. The band is often credited with bringing country music groups into the mainstream, paving the way for the success of today’s top country groups. Since its founding 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. 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.