Alabama’s Record Label Told Them That Radio Would Never Play “Mountain Music” Because It Included A Drum Solo

Alabama country music

On this day in 1982, fiddle topped the Billboard Country Charts, and captured the coveted number one spot.

The owner of that highly acclaimed seat at the top was Alabama, one of country’s most controversial groups in history with their mix of traditional country sound combined with southern rock notes, with their iconic hit “Mountain Music.”

According to Alabama frontman Randy Owen, the song took him years to write and perfect, and even after he did, key phrases like “skinnin’ cats” were often taken more literally than he intended them to be, making the song controversial with some listeners.

Randy also shared that the initial cut of the song was over four minutes long and included a spoken, storyteller-like introduction from a “wise mountain man” that was later trimmed out to meet radio requirements.

And another area of concern was the drum solo in the backbeat of the song: It was very rare to hear a drum in country single in the 1980s.

Ironically enough, Randy wrote in the drum solo to give his guitar player time to switch over to the fiddle portion of the song. And if that ain’t country at its finest, I don’t know what is.

According to Owen:

“I had written this song, and I was so excited about it! I told the folks at RCA, ‘I’ve written a song, and it’s got a drum solo in it!’

They were like, ‘Radio’ll never play that…’

The reason that I wrote the drum solo part of it was so that Jeff would have time to put the guitar down and pick up the fiddle.”

Well obviously the label was wrong, with the song propelling the band to Entertainer of the Year wins at both the ACM Awards and the CMA Awards. It’s one of their most iconic songs, and the album even won a Grammy Award for Best Country Performance By a Duo or Group.

The song that radio would “never play” also became Alabama’s sixth #1 hit, and has been certified platinum with over a million units sold.

I’d be lying if I said “Mountain Music” wasn’t one of my most-loved and most-listened-to favorites of all time, and it reminds me of home anytime I hear it come through the speakers at a concert or football game.

Needless to say, I’d love to hop in a time machine and travel back to a day when “Mountain Music” was new, shiny and topping the charts.

A beer bottle on a dock



A beer bottle on a dock