Alabama’s very own Jeff Cook has announced that he has Parkinson’s disease.

In an exclusive with “The Tennessean,” the member of the Country Music Hall of Fame group says he was first diagnosed four years ago, but that he now feels that it is time to go public and step back from touring for the time being.

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“This disease robs you of your coordination, your balance, and causes tremors,” Jeff said in a statement in a story shared on the newspaper’s Twitter page. “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.”

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In a press release, the band, which also includes members Randy Owen and Teddy Gentry, says that Jeff will play with the group on May 27 and at a fan event in June. After that, depending how the disease progresses, he will join the band from time to time. There will always be a mic ready and waiting for him.

“We could hire 10 people, but we can’t replace Jeff Cook in the group Alabama,” saysTeddy. “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.”

We wish Jeff all the best at this challenging time.

A beloved member of Alabama has Parkinson’s disease Photo by Jason Davis/Getty Images for Country Music Hall of Fame & Museum
Tricia Despres is the contributing editor for Rare Country, based out of Chicago, Illinois. Join the conversation on Twitter at @RareCountry. We would love to see y’all there.
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