Located in Tuscumbia, Colbert County, the Alabama Music Hall of Fame (AMHOF) pays tribute to the many Alabamians who have made significant contributions to the music industry. Since 1986, more than 50 Alabama-born music icons have been inducted and more than 1,200 have been honored with lesser distinctions.
At the urging of the Muscle Shoals Music Association (a professional organization of recording studio owners, producers, musicians, songwriters, and other music professionals), the Alabama legislature created the AMHOF Board of Directors in 1980 to honor the state's music achievers and its music heritage. The seven-member statewide board is appointed by the governor and oversees the AMHOF, a state agency. The legislature designated Colbert County as the site for the museum. In 1987, the citizens of Alabama approved a $2.5 million bond to fund the construction of a 12,500-square-foot exhibit hall. The city of Tuscumbia donated some of the land on U.S. Highway 72 for the facility.
The grand opening of the museum on July 26, 1990, attracted more than 35,000 music fans. Additional planned facilities will include a 2,500-seat auditorium for concerts, seminars, workshops, and community plays with state-of-the-art sound, light, and audio/video recording capabilities as well as a future research library on southern music with an emphasis on Alabama. All new facilities are scheduled to be completed by 2014 at a cost of $10 million. Some of the more notable attractions in the museum include the tour bus used by the group Alabama and the Golden Country Car, a 1960 Pontiac convertible adorned with more than 500 silver dollars and 17 silver guns. Also popular is the Sam Phillips and Sun Studios exhibit, which displays original recording equipment used by B. B. King, Muddy Waters, Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Elvis Presley. In addition, there are wax figures of Nat "King" Cole and Hank Williams Sr. and a History of Muscle Shoals music gallery.
AMHOF honors Alabama's achievers in all genres of music in three ways. The most prestigious honor is induction into the Alabama Music Hall of Fame. Portraits of inductees are displayed on the walls of the Hall of Fame gallery, as are exhibits of memorabilia and information of accomplishments in showcases in the exhibit hall. Inductees also are honored with a permanent bronze star in the "Walk of Fame" in the lobby floor of the museum. Inductees must have at least 25 years in the music industry and must have made a significant contribution to the industry. They are selected by a nominating committee and the AMHOF Board of Directors.
An induction banquet and awards banquet has been held every other year in various major cities around the state. It celebrates the state's diverse music heritage by bringing together Alabamians from all genres of music. In addition to the inductions, a variety of achievement awards are given and some of the best-known entertainers in the world perform. The AMHOF has also hosted an outdoor concert series, typically from May through August.
In 2012, the museum lost its state funding and is now open only intermittently. Supporters are attempting to raise money to make up for the loss in funding, and the board of directors is considering a possible move for the facility. Prior to that time, approximately 35,000 tourists, school children, historians, and general music fans from all over the world had toured the Alabama Music Hall of Fame to see, hear, and learn of the many musical contributions by Alabamians. Strong educational outreach was a major part of the mission to introduce every Alabama school child to the history of the state's musical heritage. In 2013, Alabama governor Robert Bentley appointed several new board members to work on re-establishing funding for the facility.