Music News & Reviews

This legendary band made Jason Aldean’s favorite country album. Now they’re coming to Macon.

During a 50th anniversary tour — like the one country supergroup Alabama is on that stops in Macon on Friday— the term bothers-in-arms is fitting.

But fans know Randy Owen, Teddy Gentry and Jeff Cook are cousins, not brothers.

Press releases count the band’s 50 years as starting when the lads “left the cotton farms of Fort Payne, Ala., to spend the summer playing music in a Myrtle Beach, S.C.”

The former little cotton-pickers (literally — they reportedly really picked cotton as kids) left Alabama to play a Myrtle Beach bar called the Bowery. That stint makes them a beach band as well as anything else they’ve become on their rags-to-riches musical journey.

A few Alabama fun facts:

First let’s just say it: Alabama has sold more than 80 million albums.

Before becoming Alabama, they toured bars in the early ‘1970s as Wildcountry.

In the late ‘70s, they became Alabama before things heated up in the ‘80s.

Their first single was “Tennessee River.”

“Tennessee River” was first of a continuous string of No. 1 hits including “Mountain Music,” “Dixieland Delight” and “If You’re Gonna Play in Texas (You Gotta Have a Fiddle in the Band).”

Alabama has racked up 179 CMA, Grammy and ACM Awards.

You could win an argument with their stats and sales that they’re the most successful country band ever.

And they have been remarkably influential and have never had trouble finding fans in Macon.

On one big, big fan they had a big, big influence.

In a Rhapsody TV/Napster video on YouTube, Macon native and country music superstar Jason Aldean chose Alabama’s “Mountain Music” when given 45 seconds to talk about his all-time favorite album. He said as a kid in Macon he listened to his dad’s copy over and over, loving the fresh combination of country music and Southern rock which was “just really cool and different.”

Anyone paying attention realizes the group’s traditional country music charged with rock ‘n’ roll beats and wailing guitars — and with inordinate doses of pyro-techniques and showmanship — left a lasting, profitable impression on Aldean.

Aldean later got to record “Tennessee River” with Alabama on their album “Alabama & Friends” and perform with them in Nashville at The Ryman Auditorium.

As impressive as their influence has been, it’s been the impressive good-time music, fun shows and connection with audiences that have kept fans coming back and the three cousins rising to the top time and time again.

After all, despite now and again dips in popularity, a breakup of a few years and personal health issues no one wants to face, the boys from Alabama continued after that early string of 21 No. 1 repeat hits to release a total of 43 chart-topping No. 1 songs in their long career.

So far.

An added bonus for Macon music lovers: Alabama’s special guest for the Macon show is The Marshall Tucker Band.

Contact Michael W. Pannell at mwpannell@gmail.com.

Alabama 50th Anniversary Tour

Where: Macon Coliseum, 200 Coliseum Drive

When: 7 p.m. June 7

Cost: Reserved seating $35-$129.50

Information: Ticketmaster.com, 800-745-3000

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