In the 1980's and 90's when I played Alabama on the air, I would refer to them as "Super Group Alabama", because that's exactly what the were - they earned it. I'm not sure Country music even know it needed a hero until they showed up. They, along with a few brave, select others were the very beginning of change that would reshape country music in every way for the next 40 years. I have proudly played all their songs on every radio station I have ever worked for - 42 years.
Their First Hit Song 1979- Peaked at #33 - Things Got Better
You are more than likely a fan of theirs in some fashion. You either go back to the start with them, jumped in halfway through or learned of them from your parents. As one that was there from the start, I will attempt to effectively communicate with you on how big and important they were. Alabama formed in the late 1960's, but did not hit until the very late 1970's and early 1980's. Country "bands" were really not a thing then. They were pretty much alone in that for the most part. We had the Oak Ridge Boys and Statler Brothers, but they were vocal groups. Alabama seemed younger and looked like a contemporary rock band of the era. But they were country. And they were right on time.
First #1 - Changed Everything The Next 21 Also Went #1
When Alabama hit, many of our stars seemed for the most part to be a bit older, not really fashionable, and not overly marketable to an still untapped younger mass audience. I loved many of those stars, but for our format to grow and prosper, deep down we knew we had to get younger and look like the fans we wanted to attract that we currently didn't have. We needed a sound that was younger too, with a thump, but still country. We needed to sing songs that spoke to a more youthful lifestyle and life, with a stage show to match. That was Alabama in a nutshell. They took the format and the entire country by storm very quickly. They, in no time were everywhere. TV, radio, magazines, and videos, they were instantly loved and you could tell they were here to stay.
This Song And Album (Same Name) Huge Success
They would dare to open a new door that needed opening, and a few others would walk through it with them at that time. About 1981, there was the gathering of the musical clouds that would create the storm that would take about a decade to complete and change country's popularity forever. They were the start of it. There were still those artists and listeners who were clinging to the Urban Cowboy sound and would do so for too long. Alabama was popular with those who wanted "country" and missed it. They were also accepted by the casual cross over fan, and by those with little or no previous interest in us, and that made them completely unique. There were a few others that were doing the same, but not near to the extent of Alabama.
This Song And Album (Same Name) Shoved Them Into An Even Higher Gear
Their versatility was incredible and their sales were simply mind-blowing at the time. Alabama understood too the absolute importance of establishing the "front man" singing voice with Randy Owen, which was a great move. They were selling millions when no one else was. As they powered through the 80's, their acceptance and popularity was making it possible for country to get more exposure than it ever had. They, along with George Strait, Reba, The Judds, Earl Thomas Conley, Hank Jr., John Anderson, Ricky Skaggs, and others were slowly ridding us of pop country, and Urban Cowboy and clearing a new path for the next gen about 1986 of Randy Travis, Dwight Yoakam, Keith Whitley, Holly Dunn and other traditionalists. But make no mistake, for the years leading up to that time, Alabama was without question the number one act in country music.
This Song Is Universally Loved
They recorded incredible music through the 1990's and into the early 2000's with great success, even though the brand new shiny giants of 1989 were here - Garth, Clint, Alan, Travis Tritt. Not only did Alabama change the 80's, but their continuance into and through the 90's really helped us dominate the entire musical landscape for that decade when teamed up with the new generations they helped create from 1981, 86, and 89. As with most long running acts, some of their music was more popular than others over the many years. I certainly didn't love every single Alabama song, but I always loved what they did for us and continued to do for us long after their initial heyday of the 1980's. They simply put us on the map with millions who never considered us before, and that's a GREAT gift.
Yeah, They Can Do A Truckin' Song!
Think about this, over 30 #1 songs, 15 PLATINUM albums (at least a million sold each with many multi-platinum) and over 80 million albums total sold. Plus over 200 awards of some kind claimed in their career. You see how lucky we were to have them? They are simply one of the most successful music acts in history, regardless of the genre. They brought us millions of new fans that still call country music home. I don't feel they saved country music, I think that came a bit later. But they not only kept us going, and they showed Nashville what could be with a commitment to the right and proper kind of change. They also without question made Nashville believers that country "bands" could make it, as many very successful ones followed starting in the later 80's - till today.
Fans Loved Their Ballads Too
Alabama led to a new kind of everything for us. They sold albums that we could only imagine selling in years prior. They carved a new path that allowed others to follow in 1981 and beyond. We owe them a real debt of gratitude, as there were years they kept us very relevant and started us growing where we had never been planted before. Almost every act that followed should them should send them a thank you card.
Love This Song!
Super Group Alabama - A Mega Star without question and very important in our history. Thank YOU!