WILD IN THE COUNTRY

Flashback: July 1, 1972

In their early days, the future supergroup Alabama went by the name Wildcountry and consisted of only three permanent members -- singer Randy Owen, guitarist Jeff Cook and bassist Teddy Gentry. And typically, their first gigs were hardly glamorous, as the boys played everywhere from VFW halls to car dealership openings.

But in the summer of 1972, Wildcountry finally landed a break -- a solid gig at Canyonland Park near Fort Payne, Ala. "What you'd do is go down to the bottom of the canyon on this chairlift, and there was a stage and a dance area down there alongside the river," recalls Randy. Adds Jeff, "They'd have Opry stars do a show and we got the job of backing them up. Then we'd play for about 30 minutes after the show."

The threesome performed their first Canyonland Park show July 1, 1972, and played at the venue until the following summer. Eight years later, the band (who had by then added drummer Mark Herndon), now known as Alabama, signed a major label contract. And as Teddy mildly understates, "Everything just kind of took off after that."

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