Alabama recalls getting their start in SC - FOX Carolina 21

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Alabama takes a walk down memory lane, explains love for Upstate

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GREENVILLE, SC (FOX Carolina) -

Country music legends, Alabama, performed to a sold out crowd at the Peace Center in Greenville Friday night, and before they took the stage they sat down for an exclusive interview with FOX Carolina.

Jeff Cook, Randy Owen and Teddy Gentry have been playing together for forty years, and they got their start in South Carolina.

Their current tour is called Back to the Bowery, the Myrtle Beach bar where they first gained notoriety. Alabama was first hired to perform on the Grand Strand for the summer, but it turned into a six-year stay in South Carolina.

Alabama said they split their time between Myrtle Beach and the Upstate. They played at a bar called Chief's in Piedmont. The band had a lot of stories about their time in the Upstate. Owen said when they arrived in Greenville it brought back memories of their early days, when they were a struggling band, trying to pay bills and hoping to make a living as musicians.

"To come here it's just emotional.  I try not to think about too much, all the stuff that happened and how discouraged you were at times, " said Owen.

Band members said they lived in a mobile home in the Upstate while they played gigs in Piedmont and Myrtle Beach. They recalled having their gas cut off because they couldn't pay the bills. 

Owen remembered another time when his truck broke down and an Upstate mechanic fixed it for free. Owen said he's tried to repay the mechanic and offer him concert tickets throughout the years, but the mechanic wouldn't accept the offer.

Owen said it can be difficult for young musicians, but offered some advice for young bands just starting out, "Stay focused and do what you want. It's really difficult but it can be done, and most of all, you've got to love it. You've got to really love it."

Gentry agreed with Owen and added, "Walking off the stage and knowing that you gave the people something from inside you, that meant something to them, and to you too. If that's happening, it's like being called to preach, nobody can talk you out of it and shouldn't be able to talk you out of it."

Alabama has teamed up with some of country music's hottest young singers for their new album, Alabama and Friends. It includes Luke Bryan, Jason Aldean, Florida-Georgia Line and others.

Alabama has sold 73 million albums and had 21 straight number one hits. 

The band members are all cousins from Fort Payne, Alabama. Owen said that they remembered going to a Clemson vs. Carolina game during their years in South Carolina, and were impressed by the fans and love of football in the state.

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