Music

County Flashback: Pre-Fame Alabama Covered The Beatles' 'From Me to You'

AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill and AP Photo/File

Before changing country music forever as members of RCA Records hit-makers Alabama, cousins Randy Owen, Teddy Gentry and Jeff Cook paid their dues under the names Young Country, Wild Country and the Alabama Band.

Years of playing gigs around their hometown of Fort Payne, Alabama (as chronicled in the song "My Home's in Alabama"} and in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina laid the groundwork for country music's seminal self-contained band. Members of equal billing handled bass, drums, guitar and vocals, making the performers that became Alabama more akin to the Beatles than vocal groups like the Statler Brothers and the Oak Ridge Boys.

As Wild Country (or Wildcountry, depending on the source), the cousins and one of drummer Mark Herndon's predecessors, a Fort Payne musician and songwriter named Bennett Vartanian, began a recording career around 1976 which included a cover of one of the Beatles' earliest hits, "From Me to You."

Fans will instantly recognize Owen's voice, even though the song itself correctly pegs Wild Country as a country-rock band straight out of a rural garage. Even without the slick production techniques of Harold Shedd, the cousins nail the harmonies made famous years later by "Mountain Music," "40 Hour Week" "The Closer You Get" and other stepping stones to the Country Music Hall of Fame.

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Early examples of Alabama's budding sound include select cuts off Wild Country's hard to find first album ("My Sweet Country Woman" "All American Woman" and "Hanging Up My Travelin' Shoes") and songs off the 1977 LP Deuces Wild. The latter features Rick Scott on drums and introduced fans to future Alabama standards "My Home's in Alabama" (then titled "Some Other Place, Some Other Time, Some Other Love"), "Lady Down on Love," "Get It While It's Hot" and the since-shortened "Tennessee River and a Mountain, Man."

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County Flashback: Pre-Fame Alabama Covered The Beatles' 'From Me to You'