Jeff Cook, one-third of Country Music Hall of Fame group Alabama, has Parkinson’s disease, a progressive disorder of the nervous system that affects movement and causes tremors.
Cook, the fiddle player and guitarist for the band, was diagnosed about four years ago. He and his bandmates – Randy Owen (vocals/guitar) and Teddy Gentry (bass) – have kept the diagnosis private until now.
Because of how the disease is impacting his body, Cook is choosing to step back from touring with the group effective April 29.
“This disease robs you of your coordination, your balance, and causes tremors,” Cook wrote in a prepared statement for fans that he read aloud to The Tennessean. “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.”
Cook is planning to play the group’s May 27th concert at The Wharf in Orange Beach, as well as an upcoming fan event in June. Other than those shows, Cook intends to drop in on the road and sing when he feels like it. However, the majority of the time, his instrumental and vocal parts will be covered by other musicians.
Absolutely heartbreaking. Jeff is an amazing talent. Please keep Jeff and his family in your thoughts and prayers while they battle this.