Jeff Cook, the legendary guitarist and founding member of Alabama, has died at the age of 73.
The band announced the death on social media, saying he died “peacefully” yesterday, November 7, with his family and close friends by his side at his beach home in Destin, Florida.
Cook was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 2012, yet he remained on the road with the band until 2018. “ALABAMA carried on with his encouragement and best wishes because Cook never wanted “the music to stop or the party to end,” according to a statement.
Cook revealed in a 2016 interview that he first noticed signs of the condition when attempting to cast a fishing lure, followed by missing notes while playing guitar. Doctors initially suspected a pinched nerve or a stroke, but Cook was eventually diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. Randy Owen and Teddy Gentry, the musician’s bandmates, were informed immediately.
The revelation was kept quiet, and Cook continued to tour with Alabama until fans saw he was straining to perform. Cook continued to tour and play with the band for two years after revealing his condition, but was forced to retire when playing got increasingly difficult.
“I’ve tried not to burden people with specifics about my illness because I don’t want the music or the celebration to stop,” Cook added. “I’m not quitting, but sometimes our bodies tell us what we need to do, and mine is telling me it’s time to rest and recuperate.”
Jeff Cook made history as a member of Alabama, along with cousins Teddy Gentry and Randy Owen, as one of the most successful ensembles in country music history. The band sold over 80 million records worldwide and had 43 No. 1 hits, including “Tennessee River,” “Mountain Music,” “Song of the South,” “High Cotton,” and “I’m in a Hurry (and Don’t Know Why).”
Cook is survived by his wife, Lisa Cook, of 27 years; his mother, Betty Cook; his brother, David Cook; his sister, Crystal Cook; his father-in-law, Jerry Williams; his brother-in-law, Randy Williams; and several nieces and nephews.