Alabama, the country music band that formed in 1969, has been one of the most popular groups in the genre’s history. It was made up of Randy Owen, Teddy Gentry, Jeff Cook, and Mark Herndon. Alabama’s music has been a staple of American radio since the late 1970s, with hits like “Tennessee River” and “Dixieland Delight” still receiving airplay decades later.
Alabama’s music career spanned more than four decades, from their humble beginnings in Fort Payne, Alabama, to their induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2005. But as with any long-lasting music group, there were changes and hardships along the way. One significant and heartbreaking change was the departure of Jeff Cook, the band’s lead guitarist and founding member, in 2017.
The Early Days of Alabama
Before Alabama, Cook and his cousin Teddy Gentry were playing music together in Fort Payne, Alabama. In 1969, they met Randy Owen and Mark Herndon while playing at a local bar. The four men quickly bonded over their mutual love of music and formed a band named Wildcountry, which would later be renamed Alabama.
Alabama performed locally for several years before signing a recording contract with RCA in 1980. Their debut album, “My Home’s in Alabama,” was released the same year and found success on country music charts. The album was certified platinum in 1984 and set the stage for the band’s massive success for the next decade.
The Rise of Alabama
In the 1980s and early 1990s, Alabama was one of the most successful bands in the country music genre. The band’s blend of Southern rock and traditional country music was hugely popular and resonated with fans across the nation.
Some of Alabama’s biggest hits include “Love in the First Degree,” “Mountain Music,” “The Closer You Get,” and “Feels So Right.” Their music explored themes that were important to their Southern audiences, including love, family, and patriotism.
Throughout their career, Alabama released 30 studio albums and sold more than 75 million records worldwide, making them one of the best-selling bands of all time. The band also won numerous awards, including CMA Entertainer of the Year three times.
Jeff Cook’s Departure from Alabama
In 2017, Jeff Cook revealed to fans that he had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, a degenerative disorder that affects the nervous system. The disease had progressed to the point where Cook could no longer tour with Alabama. Jeff’s departure from the band was a heartbreaking moment for fans and fellow band members alike.
After Cook’s departure, Alabama continued to perform as a trio, with Owen, Gentry, and Herndon. The three continued to tour and record music, releasing “Alabama & Friends,” a tribute album featuring some of today’s top country music artists, in 2013.
Jeff Cook’s Legacy
Jeff Cook left an indelible mark on the country music genre and on the many fans who have loved Alabama’s music for decades. As a songwriter and a lead guitarist, Cook was an integral part of the band’s success. But beyond his musical contributions, Cook was also known for his kind and generous personality.
After his diagnosis, Cook became an advocate for Parkinson’s disease research and raised money for programs that support people with the disease. He continued to perform occasionally, and his presence was always felt by Alabama’s fans and his fellow band members.
Jeff Cook’s death in 2021 marked the end of an era for Alabama fans. Cook’s contributions to the band and to the country music genre will be remembered for years to come. Alabama’s music has stood the test of time, and Jeff Cook’s legacy will continue to live on through it.
Why did Mark Herndon leave the group Alabama?
Mark Herndon was a drummer for the famous American country music band Alabama for over 20 years. The band was formed in 1969, and it consisted of three members: guitarist Jeff Cook, bassist Teddy Gentry, and vocalist/rhythm guitarist Randy Owen. Mark Herndon joined the band in 1979, and his signature drumming style became a crucial element of the group’s sound.
However, in 2008, Mark Herndon announced his departure from Alabama, shocking fans of the band. Initially, the reason for his departure was not clear, and many fans speculated that he had been fired or that he had left the band due to personal reasons.
It was only in 2020 that Herndon revealed the real reason why he left the band. In his book, “The High Road,” he opened up about the many times his position caused tension within the band. Herndon revealed that he was banished from the band’s tour bus and that he was paid a much lower salary than his bandmates due to his contractual agreement.
According to Herndon, he was not given a full membership in the band, and he was instead considered an employee. This meant that he had no voting rights within the group and that his contributions to the band’s music were not always acknowledged. Despite his contributions to the band’s success, Herndon was often left out of decision-making processes and had very little say in the band’s affairs.
Herndon also mentioned that the relationship between him and the other members of the band had become strained over the years. He felt like an outsider and had little in common with his bandmates, who were all from the same town and had a shared history. Herndon was originally from Arizona, and he felt like he never fully fit in with the rest of the band.
In the end, it was a mutual decision for Herndon to leave Alabama. He had been with the band for over 20 years and had contributed to their many successes over the years. However, the tension between him and the other members of the band had become too much, and he felt that it was time for a change. Today, Herndon continues to pursue his passion for music and performs with his own band, The New from Nashville Band.
What did Alabama do to their drummer?
In 2020, the legendary country rock band Alabama made headlines for the wrong reasons. The band’s longtime drummer, Mark Herndon, alleged in his memoir that he was pushed out of the band in 1988 due to a contract dispute. However, the controversy surrounding Alabama deepened when a former drummer, Jeff Cook, made a shocking allegation against Herndon.
Cook accused Herndon of abusing his stepson, and he claimed that this was the real reason why Herndon was forced out of the band. Cook’s accusations were supported by the stepson, who claimed that Herndon had physically and emotionally abused him during his teenage years. The stepson also alleged that Herndon had repeatedly threatened him and even held him at gunpoint.
As a result of these accusations, authorities in Tennessee launched an investigation into Herndon’s behavior. In 2021, Herndon was indicted on charges of willful torture, willful abuse, and cruelly beating or otherwise willfully maltreating a child under the age of 18. Herndon has denied all of the allegations made against him, but if he is convicted, he could face a prison sentence of up to 15 years.
The accusations against Herndon have undoubtedly tarnished the legacy of Alabama, which was one of the most successful country rock bands of the 1980s and 1990s. Fans of the band have expressed shock and disappointment at the allegations, and many have called for justice for Herndon’s stepson. Meanwhile, the members of Alabama have remained largely silent on the matter, preferring to focus on their music and their fans.