In concert

Reunited Alabama brings ‘Mountain Music’ to Hollywood

 
 
Alabama (from left): Jeff Cook, Randy Owen, Teddy Gentry.
Alabama (from left): Jeff Cook, Randy Owen, Teddy Gentry.
Hot Schatz PR

You can forgive Alabama for reneging on its retirement and reforming for a 40th anniversary tour that rolls into Hard Rock Live on Saturday. For lead singer Randy Owen, reuniting with the country band after its 2007 farewell tour was a life-saver.

“I had cancer. Prostate. Having got a good report and everything, I think the way for me to make a difference and maybe help people and be good for myself is to go out and get my guitar and play and sing,” Owen, 63, said from his cabin on Lookout Mountain in Tennessee. His dogs, he said, lay bored at his feet.

“I just got up and started talking, and the dogs are laying around and looking up at me. ‘We’ve heard all these stories. Come on, tell him something…’ ”

And so Owen opens up. A 15-minute telephone interview stretches into an hour. Owen reflects on Alabama’s formation 40 years ago and Kelly, his wife of 38 years — a “Georgia girl” who was in the front row of a concert at The Bowery in Myrtle Beach, S.C., years before the band broke through with 1981’s romantic single Feels So Right. That warm ballad “was responsible for a lot of babies and near misses,” he quipped.

Owen also talked about how touring today has changed from the whirlwind ’80s and ’90s.

“My wife and I never had a lot of time in the early days, so we’re enjoying some of that time now that we never had because she took care of the kids. So we get on a bus like two newlyweds of 38 years, and the fire still burns.”

The Back to the Bowery Tour and Alabama & Friends tribute album (out Aug. 27) celebrate a career that ranks Alabama the most successful country group in history. Formed by cousins Owen, Teddy Gentry and Jeff Cook, Alabama have had 32 No. 1 country hits, including Mountain Music, The Closer You Get and Roll On (Eighteen Wheeler) along with a 33rd, Old Alabama, a 2011 collaboration with Brad Paisley.

Yet those early Bowery shows were among the most special. “We never knew not to go at it full blast. God had given me this opportunity to be with Alabama, and I’m not going to screw it up. I’ll stay focused and go as long as my body and health will let me go.”

But popularity couldn’t mask pain. Owen lost his father in 1980, just as Alabama was hitting with My Home’s In Alabama and Tennessee River.

“Thousands of people are screaming, calling your name, and inside you were dying,” Owen said. “Some of the greatest moments were the saddest times.”

Tar Top broke a string of chart-toppers in 1987; it’s still Owen’s favorite Alabama song.

“That’s a song I wrote on the way to Myrtle Beach from Jacksonville State University when I got my diploma. I was the first person in my family to get a college degree. That song talked about our struggles and everything we want to do. It was a song that was very misunderstood, but for me it was deeply personal. Tar Top epitomized how I felt, and still do, about this tour. Here I am, 40 years after that first night, and I’m still alive after all the close encounters and just a lot of luck and God taking care of us.”

Alabama performs at 8 p.m. Saturday at Hard Rock Live, 1 Seminole Way, near Hollywood. Tickets are $79-$169. Call 954-797-5531 or visit http://www.hardrocklivehollywoodfl.com/. Follow @HowardCohen on Twitter.

Howard Cohen

Read more People stories from the Miami Herald

  • La vida local

    Miami Heat player Mario Chalmers goes from basketball to golf; Ariana Grande talks family problems

    You’d think Mario Chalmers would be ready for his PGA card by now. On Monday, the Miami Heat point guard held his sixth annual golf tournament in Lawrence, Kansas, benefiting his namesake foundation and hanging out with his old college teammates from his days playing basketball with the University of Kansas.

  • Celebrity roundup

    Bachelorette Andi Dorfman: I was attracted to Josh Murray from the beginning

    Bachelorette (no more) Andi Dorfman stopped by Good Morning America on Tuesday to show off her ABC swag (aka engagement ring) from former pro baseball player Josh Murray. The 27-year-old lawyer and her 29-year-old grinning fiance held hands and looked pretty happy. “I definitely knew there was that chemistry and attraction with him,” Dorfman said of their first meeting. “I'm definitely an overthinker, though, so it took me till the very end.” Plus she had to break up with 24 guys first. No wedding date has been set yet; the couple need to do more publicity first.

  • Gaga on Bennett duet CD: Jazz comes easier vs. pop

    NEW YORK (AP) – Lady Gaga is a bona fide pop star, but the singer says recording jazz music was easier than pop.

Miami Herald

Join the
Discussion

The Miami Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

The Miami Herald uses Facebook's commenting system. You need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment. If you have questions about commenting with your Facebook account, click here.

Have a news tip? You can send it anonymously. Click here to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald.

Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK

  • Marketplace

Today's Circulars

  • Quick Job Search

Enter Keyword(s) Enter City Select a State Select a Category