Alabama’s lead guitarist/fiddler/vocalist Jeff Cook revealed that he is suffering from Parkinson’s disease, a progressive disorder of the nervous system that affects movement. Parkinson’s is the same disease that afflicted boxing great Muhammad Ali and currently affects actor Michael J. Fox.
Jeff revealed to USA Today that he was diagnosed four years ago and bandmates Randy Owen and Teddy Gentry have kept the diagnosis private.
“This disease robs you of your coordination, your balance and causes tremors,” Jeff wrote in a prepared statement for fans that he read aloud to journalists from the USA Today Network. “For me, this has made it extremely frustrating to try and play guitar, fiddle or sing. I’ve tried not to burden anyone with the details of my condition because I do not want the music to stop or the party to end, and that won’t change no matter what. Let me say, I’m not calling it quits but sometimes our bodies dictate what we have to do, and mine is telling me it’s time to take a break and heal.”
Alabama released a statement on Facebook yesterday (April 11), noting that Jeff will be limiting his future appearances with the band. Jeff will appear during Fan Appreciation Weekend in Fort Payne, Ala. (June 15–18), as well as a few other upcoming dates. Jeff will continue to record with the group.
Alabama is the most successful country band in history, recording 43 No. 1 songs and 20 platinum albums over their 40-plus-year career. Alabama, which was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2005, was the first band to win the CMA Entertainer of the Year award in 1982, a feat they repeated in 1983 and 1984.
photo by Ed Rode / Hot Schatz PR