Just a few days before opening an exhibit about Alabama, the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum hosted the legendary band and a number of industry guests on Monday night (Aug. 22) on the facility’s spacious top floor.
With Teddy Gentry and Jeff Cook standing just behind him, Alabama lead singer Randy Owen told the audience, “Unlike so many things that we’ve been a part of, I actually wrote down feelings because I want to make sure. This might be the last thing I do like this.”
With his distinctive baritone, Owen thanked his father for buying him his first guitars and for teaching him the chords E, A, and B. He also thanked his mother, sisters, grandparents, and cousins. He asked one of his cousins, Jackie Owen, to stand up and be acknowledged for being a part of the band in the very early days before he joined the military.
He continued, “I want to thank Jeff Cook for being at home on that afternoon that Teddy and I came by to see what was happening. Because that was the first time we sang together and we knew that something was going on.”
From there, he mentioned entertainers like Jack Greene, Sammi Smith, Narvel Felts and Bobby Bare for allowing Alabama on the bill. He also thanked the musicians who recorded and toured with Alabama, as well as the crew and their bus drivers.
On the industry side, he graciously spoke about the late Frances Preston, Jo Walker Meador, lawyer Mike Milom, Tony Conway at Conway Entertainment, the management team at Dale Morris & Associates, Richards & Southern’s Terry Calogne, and CAA’s Blake McDaniel. He also thanked RCA promotion staff and former executive Jerry Bradley for signing them to the label.
Moving on to the road life, he cited specific tour sponsors and companies that have endorsed the band over the years. He also praised the waiters and dancers at a dive bar known as the Bowery in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, because they helped the band get enough money in tips to make a living before they had a label deal.
Because of the band’s latest recording agreement with BMG Nashville, that company’s executive vice president Kos Weaver earned a mention.
“I want to tell you all, me and these young men right here, we got to do a CD called Southern Drawl without any interference from a record company. That’s why it’s so important to say thanks to Kos and the folks at BMG. We appreciate that,” Owen said.
He wrapped by thanking his in-laws, wife, three children, spouses and grandchildren. He concluded, “And I want to say thanks to God for keeping me safe, to be here to say thank you to the Hall of Fame. Thanks to everybody that’s here tonight. We love you all.”
During his brief time at the microphone, bass player Teddy Gentry stated, “I should have prepared something I guess. All I can say is, thanks to all our friends and the people who supported us over the years. This is an incredible honor to be here among people that we always looked up to, growing up.”
He continued, “I can’t put the feelings into words, except the feelings are very good right now. From my heart I thank each and every one of you. Most of all, thanks to you guys back here, and [the band’s former drummer] Mark Herndon, who got me through a lot of the years on the road. Thank you very much.”
Jeff Cook told the audience, “Several years ago, I had an accident and a piece of glass cut a nerve and tendon, but I overcame that. And I thought that’s what I was put here to do, was to play the guitar. I figured somebody’s got to do it.”
He added, “I’d like to thank everyone that had anything to do with this at all. I’d like to thank all of the people for being here as our guests and people we invited, and the ones we didn’t invite but came anyway. It’s just a bit overwhelming and I want to say thank you to everyone out there.”
Along with a thorough and insightful speech from Museum CEO Kyle Young, the event also featured performances of “Mountain Music” and “If You’re Gonna Play in Texas (You Gotta Have a Fiddle in the Band)” from Charlie Daniels.
“I am honored to be here tonight to help pay tribute to some friends of mine,” he said. “We put a lot of mileage in over the years and had some of the best times I’ve ever had traveling across the United States of America playing music.”
He continued, “There are very few bands that we’ve opened for and I would stay around to listen to their set. Alabama was one of those bands. I love their vocal harmony and to be up here doing Alabama songs in front of Alabama is really weird. So you’ll forgive us if we mess your songs up. Gentlemen, here’s to ya.”
The exhibit, titled Alabama: Song of the South, opens to the public on Thursday (Aug. 25) and runs through June 12, 2017.
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