Alabama was the recipient of the prestigious Pinnacle Award at the recent CMA Fest, Dierks Bentley honored the group, which includes Randy Owen and Teddy Gentry, along with the late Jeff Cook, when presenting them with the trophy.
“This award has only been handed out three times in the history of country music. Garth Brooks, Kenny Chesney and Taylor Swift,” Bentley said. “This recognizes an artist or a band that has reached the pinnacle of success in country music, and these guys have surely done that. Over 40 No. 1 songs, 75 million albums sold, three Entertainers of the Year, and they’re the first band to ever play football stadiums.
“They’re the most successful band in country music, so to recognize that achievement, we’re handing this out to Alabama tonight,” he added. “This is the Pinnacle Award from the CMA.”
Both Owen and Gentry were emotional when accepting the Pinnacle Award, less than a year after Cook passed away.
“On behalf of our late cousin, Mr. Jeff Cook, which we recently lost, and on behalf of me and Teddy, the whole Alabama gang, thank y’all for letting us play for you for over 50 years,” Owen said. “We love you for it.”
Cook passed away last November, after battling Parkinson’s disease for a decade.
“He lived to play our music we created together,” Owen said of Cook, when his passing was announced. “He could play any instrument he chose, but his harmonies I’ll miss the most. I’m thankful we got to create music together for over 50 years! Wish we could play ‘My Home’s in Alabama’ one more time. I’m hurt in a way I can’t describe! To [his wife] Lisa, thanks for loving him and being there for him to the end. Play on, Jeff. Love you!”
“Closer than brothers, we lived together more than with our immediate families”, Gentry added. “Don’t think I’ve known anyone who loved playing more. Jeff, along with me and Randy, experienced the highs of undreamed success, as well as some very tough early years. None of us were perfect, but together we had something so special it will never die. No other guitar player I’ve known had the range of styles Jeff had. No one can take your place. Ever. Rest in peace till we get to jam again.”
Alabama also performed their iconic hit, “Mountain Music,” as part of the televised CMA Fest TV special, which is streaming now on Hulu. Find music and a list of all of their upcoming shows at TheAlabamaBand.com.
Photo Credit: Courtesy of CMA/Nick Zimmer