When you visit the Alabama Music Hall of Fame and you’re being dazzled by this exhibit or that, be careful not to accidentally back into the front of the “Golden Country Car.” Of course you don’t want to bump into any exhibit, but the front of the Golden Country Car, a 1960 boat-sized Pontiac convertible, is adorned with a set of very pointy Texas longhorns! The kitsch factor of the auto is further heightened by the 500 silver dollars and silver pistol replicas that adorn its body. The Pontiac is perhaps the most whimsical item in the museum which otherwise is packed with memorabilia relating to a wide variety of musicians who are also native Alabamians.
Located in Tuscumbia and adjacent to the more-famous Muscle Shoals, the Alabama Music Hall of Fame (AlaMHOF) is a prime destination for fans of artists like Hank Williams, Alabama, Lionel Richie, Chuck Leavell of Allman Brothers fame, Mac McAnally of Jimmy Buffett’s Coral Reefer Band, Elvis Presley sideman Norbert Putnam, Donna Jean Godchaux of Grateful Dead fame, Tommy Shaw of classic rock band Styx and soul man Clarence Carter. And among the hundreds of other musicians honored at AlaMHOF, there is naturally plenty of love shown for the players of the legendary Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section, known informally as “The Swampers” and immortalized as such in the Lynyrd Skynyrd song “Sweet Home Alabama.”
Fans entering the AlaMHOF will find their attention immediately drawn to the floor in the museum’s reception area as that’s where many of Alabama’s musical legends have walk-of-fame style bronze stars embedded. Eventually museum visitors will look up and see the entry to the Hall of Fame portion of the complex to the left, where looking back at them will be dozens of stars immortalized in large portraits. Entry to the exhibit hall is to the right, and that’s where the aforementioned gussied-up Pontiac is. As large as it is, the Pontiac is not the biggest vehicle in the museum; that honor goes to an old tour bus that was used by the state’s namesake band Alabama. Fans can climb into the bus and see a few items of Alabama memorabilia, and probably be surprised that while the bus was state-of-the-art at the time, the band was hardly traveling in luxury.
Some of the other displays in the museum are an exhibit focusing on Hank Williams that’s complete with a life size wax figure of the influential country star, a set of suits worn by the Muscle Shoals Horn Section, a tribute to native son Sam Phillips and Sun Records that has recording equipment once used by the likes of Elvis, Johnny Cash and BB King, and plaster casts of Lionel Richie, Hank Williams, Jr., Alabama and others. Cases full of memorabilia honor folks like Swampers Spooner Oldham and David Hood and other Alabamians like Emmylou Harris, Motown stars Martha Reeves and Eddie Kendricks, country mainstays Vern Gosdin and Jeanne Pruett, the great Nat King Cole and so many others. Lists of Alabama performers and songwriter are posted here too and even the most knowledgeable of fans will likely be surprised at some of the artists that come from the “Heart of Dixie.”
From time to time the Alabama Music Hall of Fame hosts events featuring live music; should your visit coincide with one of these you might be able to purchase a ticket to see homegrown talent like the Secret Sisters or members of the Swampers play an intimate show right in the museum’s lobby.
For more information on the Alabama Music Hall of Fame go here.
There’s lots more for music fans to explore in the Muscle Shoals area; find info here.
The Muscle Shoals area is the only Alabama stop located in the Americana Music Triangle.