This week, Melanie asked in an e-mail what I thought about one of her favorites growing up, Shenandoah. I played all their songs and always thought they were one of the most underrated country bands ever. They were much like Blackhawk in the fact that the fans that found them, really loved them. Though they did have better chart success.
Mama Knows - How GREAT Of A Song Is This?
They had 6 number one's, which is a lot, and had a bunch of other well charted songs. They were extremely likeable with their music, their image, and in person. I emceed a few of their shows, and they were good guys, with good people around them. But they are a very good example of what happens sometimes in Country Music. They had the hits, the sound, the great lead singer, the radio play, the solid fan base, but for some reason, they just didn't become the "super group" you think they would.
This Was A Big Number One!
They showed up right on time, late 1980's, and the traditionalist movement had begun. Shenandoah was traditional, and they flew in the face of the fading Urban Cowboy craze. Their music was apologetically country and the format seemed ready to follow a new country band. They got good press, and were heralded as fresh and honest. But the gigantic success would prove difficult.
Alabama was a big part of that. For over a decade, they ruled the roost as far as the Country Band thing was concerned. And for some reason, we were somewhat reluctant to let anyone else really take off and fly unlimited. Many great bands came out. The Kentucky Headhunters, Confederate Railroad, Southern Pacific, Desert Rose Band, Blackhawk, Atlanta, and Shenandoah, who all had some real good success, but all sort of lived in Alabama's shadow at that time, even after the main Alabama run was over.
Their Biggest Hit - At Least On The Charts
But Shenandoah was smooth and very talented in every regard. Marty Raybon, their lead singer, had the terrific signature voice that all great bands, regardless of format, have to have. They also had some great material to work with. Some of their songs are many fans all-time favorites, including Two Dozen Roses and Next To You, Next To Me, which was a three week #1. I was a fan because I always felt that whatever their current song was, it was solid. Once they got going, they seldom had a "bad" song.
This Song Won Awards, And Is A Real Favorite - Great Match
After hitting the charts in the late 80's, they rolled on for a good long while making great songs, and having good success. Big songs like, Ghost In This House, Mama Knows, Church On Cumberland Road, Sunday In The South, and If Bubba Can Dance. All of these were big songs, and did well on the radio. The album, Extra Mile is a classic as far as I am concerened. They won an ACM, a CMA, and a Grammy. Their collaboration with Alison Krause won a both a Grammy and a CMA for, Somewhere In The Vicinity Of The Heart. Great song!
I Always Loved This Song!
But a big law suit over their name was a bigger problem, and they settled with a band from Kentucky on it. They got to keep the name, but it hurt. Then there were two other bands that made the same name claim and things got tough. Later Raybon left the band, and eventually they disbanded and that was a shame. But there have been reunions and the reformings. And that's good to see. They were really great for a time, and no one wanted them to just disappear.
This Was A Big Song!
Shenandoah was very good for country, and I miss them and their honest approach to our format. Great music, great guys, great run. They deserve some love! They were just good - everything!