Country Music Hall of fame group Alabama’s own Jeff Cook has revealed his diagnosis of Parkinson’s Disease . It is a nervous system disorder, which causes tremors and affects movement. It’s a progressive disease.
Cook, the fiddle player and guitarist says he was diagnosed roughly four years ago and have decided to keep it a private matter until now. This is because the disease is starting to more noticeably affect his body. He has made the decision to discontinue touring with the band starting on April 29.
Cook wrote in a recent statement, “The disease robs you of your coordination, your balance, and causes tremors”. He read this aloud for his fans in front of journalists from the USA TODAY NETWORK. He added, “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.”
People had been starting to speculate that Cook’s issues were due to a substance abuse problem. The other members of the band, Gentry and Owen, have been protecting Cooks interest for years and began to struggle to keep his secret as the disease progressed.
“That’s the part that hurts so bad, for people to think that he’s intoxicated or something,” Owen said. “He’s not, and me and Teddy wanted to say a lot of things to these people.
Cook began to realize there was a problem when he could no longer cast his fishing lure accurately. Then he started struggling to hit his guitar notes. When he finally decided to go to the doctor he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease.
Though Cook needs to step back from Alabama, he gave the band his blessing and wants them to go on without him.
“He wants us to go on,” Owen said. “We want the music to go on. I’m going to be very honest. I don’t know if I have the fire. The only way I do, is knowing that Jeff is totally, ‘Go get it.’”
The group has sold more then 75 million albums and singles and charted 43 number 1 songs since their national debut in 1980. Their biggest hits include Mountain Music, Dixieland Delight, If You’re Gonna Play in Texas (You Gotta Have a Fiddle in the Band) and I’m in a Hurry (and Don’t Know Why).
Cook plans to play a few more shows including Alabama’s May 27 concert in Orange Beach, Alabama. He also intends to drop in and sing when he feels like it.
“Whenever he can be there, he will,” Owen added. “And I believe he will. I don’t see the future, but I feel the future.”