Country Chatter

Alabama’ Jeff Cook Diagnosed with Parkinson’s


Jeff Cook, one third of the Country super group Alabama, revealed that he has Parkinson’s Disease. Cook, the fiddle player and guitarist for the band, was diagnosed about four years ago. He and fellow 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 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’s first indication that there was a problem came when he couldn’t cast his fishing lure anymore. Next he started struggling to hit his guitar notes. Privately, Cook thought he might have a pinched nerve. Owen and Gentry worried that he had suffered a stroke. Cook’s doctor told the guitarist he might have Parkinson’s disease, but when the test results came back and confirmed it, Cook said he felt “empty.”

Cook is still planning on attending the group’s May 27 concert in Orange Beach, Alabama, as well as a fan event in June. Besides those shows, Cook will make appearances with the band when he feels up to it. But, for the majority of the time, his instrumental and vocal parts will be covered by other musicians.

Gentry and Owen stress that Cook’s microphone will always be on stage – regardless of whether he’s there to use it.

Alabama is a three-time Country Music Association entertainer of the year, a five-time Academy of Country Music entertainer of the year and the ACM’s Artist of the Decade in 1988.

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