Alabama was the most successful country band of the 1980s, with an energetic crossover sound that combined mainstream country with an electric Southern rock element. The quartet accumulated 32 No. 1 singles before retiring from active touring in 2003.
The earliest version of the band was called Young Country, created in 1969 by cousins Randy Owen (b. Dec. 13, 1949), Teddy Gentry (b. Jan. 22, 1952) and Jeff Cook (b. Aug. 27, 1949) in Fort Payne, Ala., to compete in a high school talent show. They reunited in 1972 as a bar band called Wildcountry. The band changed its name to Alabama in 1977 and was joined by drummer Mark Herndon (b. May 11, 1955) in 1979, establishing the final quartet.
With their long hair, beards and working class attire, Alabama spent the next years sharing stages with a wide assortment of musicians, including traditional country acts and harder rocking bands such as ZZ Top. After releasing three independent albums, Alabama signed to RCA Records, which issued the double-platinum “My Home's in Alabama” in 1980. It included several hit singles, including their first No. 1 hit, “Why Lady Why,” the top 40 title song and “I Wanna Come Over.”
That was followed by more multi-platinum albums, including the bestselling collection of Alabama's career, 1982's “Mountain Music.” In 1987, the group recorded the top 10 country single “Deep River Woman” with Lionel Richie, and remained a popular act throughout the '90s, with several more top 10 country hits.
The band went on hiatus from active performing in 2003, but has since released two gospel albums, “Songs of Inspiration” and “Songs of Inspiration Vol. 2.” Band members continue to live in and around Fort Payne and occasionally appear at fan appreciation events.