The iconic country rock band Alabama will soon be losing one of its founding members. Guitarist and fiddle player Jeff Cook is stepping away from touring with the band due to his struggle with Parkinson’s disease, which he announced publicly for the first time in a video statement for The Tennessean on Tuesday after originally being diagnosed four years ago.
“This disease robs you of your coordination, your balance, and causes tremors,” Cook said in his 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.”
According to The Tennessean, Cook is still set to play a concert with the band on May 27 and a fan event in June. After that, his parts will be mostly covered by other musicians on tour, though fellow Alabama founders Randy Owen and Teddy Gentry said there’s always a place for him when he feels healthy enough to drop in.
“We could hire 10 people, but we can’t replace Jeff Cook in the group Alabama,” said Gentry. “Like Jeff said, when this is all you’ve ever known and you love the music, you want to see it go on as long as possible. Alabama has surpassed what any of us ever dreamed of, but I still love to play more or as much as I did [yesterday], and I know Jeff does, too.”
Watch the video statement above.