Alabama Receives Prestigious Pinnacle Award During CMA Fest

Alabama has another trophy to add to their extensive collection. The iconic group surprised fans by appearing at CMA Fest, where Randy Owen and Teddy Gentry, the two remaining founding members of Alabama, were surprised by receiving the prestigious Pinnacle Award,

It was Dierks Bentley, after performing his own headlining set at Nissan Stadium for CMA Fest’s fourth and final night, who gave Alabama their trophy.

“They’ve had over 40 No. 1 songs, 75 million albums sold, three Entertainers of the Year, and the first band to every play football stadiums,” Bentley boasted from stage. “They’re the most successful band in country music. So to recognize that achievement, we’re handing this out to Alabama tonight. This is the Pinnacle Award from the CMA.”

Per the Country Music Association, the award “recognizes an artist or group who has undeniably redefined the pinnacle of success in the genre by achieving prominence through concert performances, consumption numbers, record sales and/or other significant industry achievements at levels unique for country music. They have also attained the highest degree of recognition within the broad expanse of music worldwide, and their talent and presence will have a long-term positive impact on the appreciation of Country Music for generations to come.”

Surprised and full of emotion by the unexpected accolade, Owen and Gentry honored Jeff Cook, the third founding member, who passed away last November, after a ten-year battle with Parkinson’s disease.

“He lived to play our music we created together,” Owen said of Gentry, when the news of Cook’s 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 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.”

The Pinnacle Award was created in 2005, with Garth Brooks being the first recipient. The only other artists to receive the honor are Taylor Swift in 2013 and Kenny Chesney in 2016.

The  Country Music Hall of Fame act, who recently received Pandora’s Billionaire plaque in honor of two billion streams on the music platform. has plenty of dates on the calendar over the next few months. Find music and a list of all of their upcoming shows at

Photo Credit: Courtesy of CMA/Nick Zimmer