Mark Herndon

Former Alabama Drummer Describes Conflict Inside the Band

The former drummer Mark Herndon of country band Alabama is speaking out about his rocky relationship with the group's other members over the years. Apparently, it was trouble in paradise for this American band despite their many Grammy award nominations (and two wins) over the years.

Mark Herndon's new book, The High Road: Memories from a Long Trip, looks back on the many years spent on the road with the legendary country group and what led to his eventual departure.

Although he became one of the most recognizable and beloved members of the band during their peak years of popularity in the 1980s ("Mountain Music" anyone? Billboard chart-topper and classic country song), it was later revealed that he was not considered an "official" part of the band. Lead singer Randy Owen told the Tennessean in 2013 that the decision to include Herndon on album covers and in public appearances was decided by their record label. So he wasn't really a full-time member of the Alabama & Friends band.

"They wanted the four (members) so they could compare it to the Beatles," Owen said. "I never thought anything about it, because everybody knew Mark had nothing to do with the structure with Alabama. He didn't play on the albums. He was just on the stage with us, as were several other people. Had we been smart enough, there never would have been four people in the pictures."

However, no one from Sony Music has publicly corroborated these claims. In The High Road, Herndon reveals the many times his position caused tension within the band. He says he was banished from the band's tour bus and was paid a much lower salary than his bandmates Own, Jeff Cook and Teddy Gentry, due to his contractual agreement.

"Nobody held a gun at my head and told me to stay there," he says. "I stayed there for various reasons, but I allowed myself to be intimidated by some that were there, [including] some of the behind-the-scenes players."

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The other Alabama band members even sued Herndon in 2008 for more than $200,000 over allegations that he had been overpaid for merchandise sales on their farewell tour. Due to his previous contract, Herndon had earned no profits off any merchandise sales up until that reunion tour.

Although many longtime Alabama and country music fans were left with a bad taste in their mouths after Herndon was all but disowned from the band, he doesn't hold any hard feelings over the dispute.

"None of it bothers me anymore. It's just something I did," he says. "There's enough in [the book] where people can draw their own conclusions."

Herndon was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame, along with his former bandmates, in 2005.


This post was originally published on March 25, 2016.