’80s Country Essentials
Country music busted out into a multitude of directions in the ’80s, developing a higher profile than ever before in the process. Hitmaking crossover queens The Judds and K.T. Oslin were edging further into pop turf, while rough-hewn mavericks like Steve Earle laid the groundwork for the rockin’ sound of alt-country, and back-to-basics New Traditionalists such as Randy Travis and George Strait brought about a return to the music’s roots. Rising stars Alabama and Eddie Rabbitt were breaking through to the pop mainstream and putting new faces on the Nashville scene with hook-heavy good-time grooves. At the same time, the ’80s saw such legends as George Jones, Dolly Parton, and Willie Nelson flexing their musical muscles and finding new ways for their sound to fit into the ever-evolving country continuum. And the entrance of Lionel Richie and Julio Iglesias onto the country charts underlined the scene’s constant state of redefinition.