How did Jeff Cook die? Tributes pour in as co-founder of country band Alabama dies at 73

Jeff Cook, one of the original members of the country band Alabama, has died, according to the group’s representative, Don Murry Grubbs

How did Jeff Cook die? Tributes pour in as co-founder of country band Alabama dies at 73
Guitarist Jeff Cook, who co-founded the country group Alabama has died at the age of 73 (Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
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DESTIN, FLORIDA: After battling Parkinson's disease for a decade, famed American country musician Jeff Cook died Monday, Nov 7, at age 73. The co-founding member of the landmark Country Music Hall of Fame band Alabama publicly announced his diagnosis in 2017. His death was confirmed Tuesday afternoon by a representative of the band. Cook died at his beachfront home in Destin, Florida.

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Alongside cousins Randy Owen and Teddy Gentry, Cook brought a new life to country music and made the band a global sensation. The vocalist, fiddle player, and vocalist in Alabama produced many famous country music songs such as  'Song of the South,' 'Mountain Music,' 'I'm In A Hurry,' 'Cheap Seats,' and 'My Home's In Alabama.' Over the course of his country music career Cook sold 80 million albums and charted 43 No 1 hits. The band enjoyed 13 Grammy nominations and two wins back-to-back trophies in 1983 and 1984 for best country performance by a duo or group with vocals for 'Mountain Music' and 'The Closer You Get,' respectively.

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Cook was a native of small-town named Fort Payne and started his early music career as a disc jockey in his hometown. He co-founded the band Young Country alongside Owen and Gentry in 1969, which was later renamed Alabama.  The band secured a deal with the RCA in 1977, dawning a remarkable run on the country radio charts. Between the spring of 1980 and the summer of 1982, Alabama landed eight No. 1 songs on the country charts, according to the Country Music Hall of Fame. It included pop crossover hits 'Love In The First Degree' and 'Feels So Right,' as well as 'Tennessee River' and 'Mountain Music.' 

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“Country music was always about solo artists, and I think they capitalized on what the [o]utlaws had started, which was amassing a youth audience for the genre," country music historian Robert K. Oermann said in 2017, according to The Tennessean. He added, "Jeff was the instrumental wizard who could do fiddle and guitar." 

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Musician Jeff Cook attends the 2009 CMT Music Awards at the Sommet Center on June 16, 2009 in Nashville, Tennessee.
Guitarist Jeff Cook, who co-founded the country group Alabama and steered them up the charts with such hits as 'Song of the South' and 'Dixieland Delight,' has died (Jason Merritt/Getty Images)

Alabama reunited in 2011 for a charity concert after an initial farewell tour that wrapped in 2004 to help tornado victims in the group's namesake state. Cook also released a handful of solo projects and toured with his Allstar Goodtime Band and released collaborations with Charlie Daniels and "Star Trek" star William Shatner. He entered the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2005 as a member of Alabama. 

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Cook stopped touring with Alabama around 2018 due to the ongoing impact of his Parkinson’s diagnosis. He co-wrote a song on a 2015 comeback album called "No Bad Days". “After I got the Parkinson’s diagnosis, people would quote the song to me and say, ‘No bad days,’ ” Cook told The Tennessean in 2019. “They write me letters, notes and emails and they sign ‘No Bad Days.’ I know the support is there. They join me. People I don’t know come up to me and say, ‘How ya feeling?’ You just got to live it every day and take it as it comes. Prayer does work. And I know there was a lot of praying going on.”

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Recording Artists Donna Fargo and Jeff Cook (Alambama) at the Nashville Music Garden dedication celebration at Hall of Fame Park on September 29, 2009 in Nashville, Tennessee.
Recording Artists Donna Fargo and Jeff Cook (Alabama) at the Nashville Music Garden dedication celebration at Hall of Fame Park on September 29, 2009, in Nashville, Tennessee. (Rick Diamond/Getty Images)

Cook is survived by his wife of 27 years Lisa Cook, his mother Betty, and his brother David, among other family members. His family asks for donations to the Jeff and Lisa Cook Foundation which is a non-profit dedicated to raising awareness for Parkinson's disease.

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Fans and other fellow musicians also paid their heartfelt tribute to the legendary music artist. Jason Aldean took to Twitter and paid tribute to Cook. "So sad to hear of the passing of Jeff Cook. I spent a lot of my life listening to him play guitar, what an iconic sound he had," he wrote. "I got a chance to perform with him multiple times over the years and I will never forget it." Aldean continued, in a follow-up tweet, "RIP Mr. Jeff, you are a legend to many of us and your influence will be felt forever in country music." The wife and son of the late Charlie Daniels also wrote a heartfelt post about Cook on Twitter. "Heaven gained another guitar/fiddle player today. Mom and I were saddened to hear about the passing of @TheAlabamaBand's Jeff Cook after a lengthy battle with Parkinson's disease. Prayers for his family and many fans," he tweeted. Grammy winner Travis Tritt complimented Cook's non-musical skills in his tribute tweet, writing, "Sending out my deepest condolences to the family, friends and band mates of Jeff Cook from @TheAlabamaBand. Such a great guy [and] one heckuva bass fisherman. He will be truly missed." Fellow Country Music Hall of Fame members The Oak Ridge Boys also posted on Twitter to share a post about Cook. "Heartbreaking news … friend and brother Jeff Cook of @TheAlabamaBand has passed … goodbye Jeff .. rest easy many … the battles have ended … #RIPJeffCook," wrote the group.

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One fan who was devastated after hearing the sad news, tweeted, " Oh man, this sucks. #jeffcook, co-founder of one of the greatest country bands ever, ALABAMA, has died at 73 after a decade-long battle with Parkinson’s. RIP. And just remember, 'If you’re gonna play in Texas, you’ve gotta have a fiddle in the band.'" Another fan tweeted, "RIP Jeff Cook!!! Prayers to his family, friends and country music community. I love the band Alabama and their music." "Sad to hear that Jeff Cook of Alabama passed away. I saw them several times, including in the beginning and near the end of their farewell tour. During one visit to the radio station I took him across the street to a little store and he bought a bunch of fishing tackle," tweeted another fan. 

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