Excerpted from the magazine for Billboard.com.
For country supergroup Alabama, parting is indeed sweet sorrow.
The sweetness is to the tune of $15 million in box office grosses before the tour even hits its stride. Billed as Alabama's Farewell tour, the 40-city trek ends in mid-November.
Following "test runs" last New Year's Eve at the Aladdin in Las Vegas and the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo in March, Alabama began the tour in earnest with huge openings at Philips Arena in Atlanta and a brace of shows in Birmingham, Ala.
The tour marks the end of one of the hardest-touring bands in country music history. A bankable mainstay for more than two decades, Alabama fittingly finishes with its top-grossing tour.
For Alabama frontman Randy Owen, going out at the top of the group's game is an intriguing concept.
"We're very excited about this tour," Owen says, adding that it has been challenging creatively. "Every show is different by design. We don't want anybody to see us in Tennessee and then see the same show in Birmingham.
"That's a fun way to do it, but it's very mentally demanding," Owen continues. "But what we're very determined to do is make this a historical overview and celebration of the music to enjoy with the fans."
Despite the financial success, "it's never been about the money," Owen says. "It has always been about the music with us. After a successful 25 years, we always felt like we would know when the time was right to step back, and we wanted to do it while we could still get down and do it right."
Owen admits he has mixed feelings about letting Alabama go but doesn't think the odds are in favor of the band extending the tour.
"Selfishly, I would like to play some more shows, because some people might not be able to see us because we're not going to all of the cities," he says. "But I don't see that happening. This is Alabama; this is not Randy Owen. And I'm proud to be a part of it."
Here are Alabama's upcoming tour dates:
July 18: Dallas (Smirnoff Music Centre)
July 19: Beaumont, Texas (Southeast Texas Entertainment Complex)
July 25: Columbus, Ohio (Germain Amphitheater)
July 26: Noblesville, Ind. (Verizon Wireless Music Center)
Aug. 8: Cincinnati (Riverbend Music Center)
Aug. 9: Clarkston, Mich. (DTE Energy Music Theatre)
Aug. 15: Camden, N.J. (Tweeter Center At The Waterfront)
Aug. 16: Hershey, Pa. (Hersheypark Stadium)
Aug. 23: Virginia Beach, Va. (Verizon Wireless Virginia Beach Amphitheatre)
Aug. 24: Bristow, Va. (Nissan Pavilion)
Aug. 30: Burgettstown, Pa. (Post-Gazette Pavilion @Star Lake)
Sept. 3: South Bend, Ind. (Notre Dame University)
Sept. 5: Milwaukee (Marcus Amphitheatre)
Sept. 6: Maryland Heights, Mo. (UMB Bank Pavilion)
Sept. 12: Salt Lake City, Utah (Delta Center)
Sept. 13: Denver (Pepsi Center)
Sept. 14: Bonner Springs, Kan. (Verizon Wireless Amphitheater)
Sept. 17: Puyallup, Wash. (Western Washington Fair)
Sept. 19: Marysville, Calif. (Sleep Train Amphitheatre)
Sept. 20: Mountain View, Calif. (Shoreline Amphitheatre)
Sept. 26: Nampa, Idaho (Idaho Center)
Sept. 27: Portland, Ore. (Rose Garden Arena)
Oct. 3: Devore, Calif. (Hyundai Pavilion Of Glen Helen)
Oct. 4: Phoenix (Cricket Pavilion)
Oct. 10: West Palm Beach, Fla. (Sound Advice Amphitheatre)
Oct. 11: Tampa, Fla. (St. Pete Times Forum)
Oct. 17: Lexington, Ky. (Rupp Arena)
Oct. 19: Maryville, Tenn. (Foothill Festival)
Nov. 15: Grand Forks, N.D. (Alerus Center)
Nov. 20: Moline, Ill. (Mark Of The Quad Cities)
Nov. 21: Minneapolis (Target Center)
Nov. 22: Rosemont, Ill. (Allstate Arena)
Excerpted from the July 19, 2003, issue of Billboard. The full original text of the article is available in the Billboard.com Premium Services section.
To order a single copy of the issue, visit The Billboard Store.