Roughly 1/5 of all albums (and album equivalents) sold in the United States is for country music. For many people, this may be completely unbelievable because country music is so seldom on their radar. I grew up in rural central Florida, outside of the town of Plant City, and every year that town’s Strawberry Festival hosts a large number of country musicians for concerts. I am sure that Alabama has performed many times there, although I have not seen them live. Although I live just outside one of the most hipsterish of cities in the United States, there is an entirely different world outside of the cities, and in that world, Alabama is one of the greatest musical acts of all time. In examining the importance of country music to rock , we must look at the career of Alabama, as they were one of the most influential acts in country music history, and given the importance of country music to the larger musical world, it is important for us to look at one of the more neglected areas of the musical world when it comes to induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame by turning to country. Also, be prepared, as there are going to many other acts that we cover in this genre going forward, especially once it becomes time to look at the crossover acts starting in the early 1990’s.
The Influence Of Alabama
Before four Alabama-born musicians joined together to form the band, there had been no tradition of successful groups within country music. Country music had been known for its successful vocalists, both male and female, but not groups. If Alabama had done nothing more than break down that door and make it possible for country groups to be successful, whether after a time on the pop charts (as had been the case for Exile) or as de novo creations (like Restless Heart, Lonestar, and many others), that alone would make them worthwhile of Rock & Roll Hall of Fame induction. That is not all they did, but it was perhaps the most important of their contributions to the larger musical world. If you open up whole new options for music, you deserve induction, even if you happen to toil in the often forgotten ghetto of country music. Aside from that massively important aspect of their career, Alabama has made great music for more than four decades, music that has been appreciated within and outside of the country tradition, and successfully worked with other worthwhile acts as diverse as Lionel Richie and ‘N Sync. That sort of success and ability to work well with others is worth considerable recognition.
Why Alabama Deserves To Be In The Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame
Aside from their immensely influential role in opening up the option of successful groups within the framework of Country music and their ability to crossover into the pop world in a time where that was not very common, Alabama has been immensely successful both in their album sales and in their singles. Concerning their album sales, they have ten multiplatinum albums, ten additional platinum albums, and three additional gold albums. They have been certified outside of the United States (at least in Canada), and have had successful studio albums, live albums, gospel albums, and compilation albums. Concerning their singles, they have had six top 40 hits on the mainstream pop charts–not even counting their dozens of #1 country hits–and included among their singles are successful collaborations with Lionel Richie (“Deep River Woman”), ‘N Sync (“God Must Have Spent A Little More Time On You”), and Brad Paisley (“Old Alabama”), among others. In addition, they have charted five top ten hits on the Adult Contemporary chart . This is a band that has been around for a long time and that has made a strong impression on the music world in an age where country music was not well-regarded. They deserve to reap the laurels for their efforts at opening the charts to country music so that the crossover acts of the early 1990’s and beyond could sail into that open door. There are a lot of country acts that owe Alabama at least in part for their own massive success.
Why They Aren’t In The Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame
It’s pretty obvious that the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame has a hard enough time inducting mainstream pop, arena rock, progressive rock, dance, rap, and R&B acts that the larger world of country music has entirely slipped their consciousness. When so many obviously important vocalists and groups have not been inducted in the mainstream musical world, nominations for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame have not entered into those areas where there is less popular awareness, and country is one of those areas where a light needs to be shone.
Verdict: Put them in. They are among the first of a large number of worthy and neglected country acts with phenomenal sales success and influence. This list of snubbed country acts is a massive one and will likely continue to grow for some time.
 See, for example: