Alabama, one of the top country acts of all time, will embark on a farewell tour next year before retiring. "After long thought and thinking very deeply, and while we still love one another, while we

Alabama, one of the top country acts of all time, will embark on a farewell tour next year before retiring. "After long thought and thinking very deeply, and while we still love one another, while we still care very deeply about one another, we want to announce to the fans all across the world that starting next year in 2003, it will be our farewell tour," lead singer Randy Owen said.

The announcement came during last night's (May 22) Academy of Country Music Awards at the Universal Amphitheatre in Los Angeles.

Alabama, which began as a bar band in Myrtle Beach, S.C., has sold more than 65 million albums and scored a seemingly endless run of hits, including "Love in the First Degree," "Old Flame," and "Can't Keep a Good Man Down," just three of the band's more than 25 No. 1 on Billboard's Hot Country Singles & Tracks chart.

"They've served their country well. They deserve to retire if that's what they want to do," said country singer Trace Adkins. "I know where their heads are at," said Brooks & Dunn's Ronnie Dunn. "They've had a great career and been a great inspiration."

In 1989, Alabama was named country music artist of the '80s by the Academy of Country Music and Billboard. The Recording Industry Association of America named the band country group of the century and the band has received 21 American Music Awards.

Last year, the band, known for its hot fiddle music and well-crafted love songs, released its latest RCA album, "When It All Goes South," which debuted at No. 4 on Billboard's Top Country Albums chart and No. 37 on The Billboard 200. In addition to Owen, the band consists of Teddy Gentry, Jeff Cook, and Mark Herndon.


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