On This Day: Alabama Steers ‘Roll On (Eighteen Wheeler)’ to No. 1 in 1984

by Jim Casey
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Alabama scored its 12th consecutive No. 1 hit as “Roll On (Eighteen Wheeler)” reached the top of the chart on March 24, 1984.

Country music’s love affair with trucking is as long as Route 66. From Dave Dudley’s “Six Days on the Road” to Jerry Reed’s “East Bound and Down,” there has never been a shortage of country artists singing about the open road.

Coinicidentally, it was only fitting in 1984 that country music’s most successful group of all time decided to lay the hammer down.

Alabama Lays Down the Hammer

Penned by Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame member David Loggins, “Roll On (Eighteen Wheeler)” became the truck-driving anthem of every lead-footed road dog in 1984.

Alabama released “Roll On” in January 1984 as the lead single to their eighth studio album of the same name. What’s more, less than three months later on March 24, 1984, the tune reached No. 1 on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart.

Alabama super-fans, truckers with cassettes, and keen-eared observers are sure to prefer the album version of the song, complete with the opening sound effect of a semi-truck engine. Additionally, the album version—which is 40 seconds longer than the radio edit—ends with an extra repetition of the chorus. Because there’s no better way to end a song than by singing “roll on” into perpetuity.

Rolling On

“Roll On” marked Alabama’s 12th consecutive No. 1 single on the chart. Amazingly, Alabama extended that streak to 21 No. 1 singles with “You’ve Got the Touch” in 1987.

Roll On helped Alabama pack its trophy case when awards were being dolled out in 1984 and 1985. The group was named Entertainer of the Year at the CMA Awards in 1984. Then Alabama won Vocal Group of the Year, Album of the Year, and Entertainer of the Year at the 1985 ACM Awards.

Since forming the group in 1977, Alabama’s Randy Owen, Teddy Gentry, Jeff Cook, and Mark Herndon (added in 1979) have become the most-awarded band in the history of country music. Furthermore, Alabama was elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2005.

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