This day in 1977, Alabama debuted on the charts with their first single, “I Wanna Be With You Tonight.”
The group (while still known as ‘Wild Country’) sent out demo tapes to record companies but received few responses until executives at GRT Records signed the band to a one-record contract, issuing their debut single, “I Want to Be with You Tonight”, in 1977. GRT was more interested in the band as songwriters, and convinced the group to change their name to the Alabama Band, later shortened to Alabama. The song reached number 78 on the Billboard Hot Country Songs charts, and GRT declared bankruptcy the following year. Due to a hidden clause in their contract, Alabama was forbidden from recording with another label. For the next two years, the band raised money to buy out their contract and they began recording again in 1979. Following self-recorded efforts Wild Country (1976) and Deuces Wild (1977), Alabama Band No. 3 became the band’s third album, and the band performed over 300 shows on the road that year.
The group signed with RCA in 1980.
Alabama amassed over 40 number one hit singles (on a variety of industry charts) and 12 top-10 albums, including ten that peaked at number one on Billboard’s Top Country Albums chart. The group also had 33 number ones on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart.
Hear “I Wanna Be With You Tonight” here.