LAS VEGAS, NV - DECEMBER 05: (L-R) Musicians Jeff Cook, Randy Owen and Teddy Gentry of the band Alabama accept the Greatest Hits Award onstage at the American Country Awards 2011 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on December 5, 2011 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
Theresa Seiger, Cox Media Group National Content Desk
Jeff Cook, one of the founding members of the Grammy Award-winning band Alabama, revealed in an interview this week that he has Parkinson’s disease.
Cook told The Tennessean that he was diagnosed about four years ago. Because of the disorder, which affects the central nervous system and often causes tremors, Cook told the newspaper that he plans to step back from touring with the band starting April 29.
“This disease robs you of your coordination, your balance, and causes tremors,” Cook said in a statement 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 plans to play one show with the band in May and another in June, along with other drop-in performances “when he feels like it,” The Tennessean reported.
Cook’s fellow band members, Teddy Gentry and Randy Owen, told the newspaper that they kept Cook’s diagnosis secret for years, despite speculation that pinned his visible symptoms on substance abuse problems.
“That’s the part that hurts so bad, for people to think that he’s intoxicated or something,” Owen told The Tennessean. “He’s not, and me and Teddy waited back … we wanted to say a lot of things to these people.”
Alabama rose to fame in the late 1970s and released a string of hits in the 1980s and 1990s. Between 1980 and 1993, 30 of the group's records reached the top of the Billboard country charts, according to the Country Music Hall of Fame.
The group has sold more than 75 million albums.
Alabama got a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1998 and was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2005.