NEW YORK — Guitarist Jeff Cook, who co-founded the successful country group Alabama and sent them to the charts with hits like “Song of the South” and “Dixieland Delight,” has passed away. He was 73.
Cook had Parkinson’s disease and announced his diagnosis in 2017. He died Tuesday at his home in Destin, Florida, said Don Murry Grubbs, a representative for the band.
Tributes poured in from country stars, including Travis Tritt who called Cook “a great guy and a great bass fisherman”, and Jason Aldean, who tweeted, “I’ve had the opportunity to perform with him several times over the years and I will never forget it.” Kyle Young, CEO of the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, added, “Everything he did was rooted in his deep love of music, a love he shared with millions.”
As a guitarist, violinist and singer, Cook — along with cousins Randy Owen and Teddy Gentry — landed eight #1 songs on the country charts between spring 1980 and summer 1982, according to the Country Music Hall of Fame. That run included the pop crossover hits “Love In The First Degree” and “Feels So Right”, as well as “Tennessee River” and “Mountain Music”.
“Jeff Cook, and all the boys in Alabama, were so generous with wisdom and joy when I got to tour with them as a young artist,” Kenny Chesney said in a statement. “They showed a kid in a T-shirt that country music can be rock, can be real, can be someone like me. Growing up in East Tennessee, I got the heart to chase this dream.”
The band had a three-year run as CMA Entertainer of the Year from 1982-1985 and earned five ACM Award Entertainer of the Year trophies from 1981-1985. He stopped touring with Alabama in 2018.
Cook released a handful of solo projects and toured with his Allstar Goodtime Band. He also released collaborations with Charlie Daniels and ‘Star Trek’ star William Shatner. He was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2005 as a member of Alabama.
A song he co-wrote in 2015, “No Bad Days,” took on new meaning after his diagnosis. “After I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s, people would quote the song to me and say, ‘No bad days,'” Cook told The Tennessean in 2019. “They wrote me letters, notes and emails and they signed ‘No Bad Days’. I know the support is there.”
Survivors include his wife, Lisa.