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Jeff Cook, Alabama Co-Founder and Guitarist, Dies at 73

Musician was diagnosed a decade ago with Parkinson's disease and stopped touring with the group in 2018
Jeff Cook
(Credit: Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Images)

Jeff Cook, the co-founder and guitarist of the mega-successful country band Alabama, has died at the age of 73. Cook was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 2012 and stopped touring with Alabama in 2018 due to the condition.

Alabama confirmed the news of Cook’s death in a social media post, saying he passed away yesterday (Nov. 7) at his beach home in Destin, Fla. He was surrounded by his close friends and family members.

Born on Aug. 27, 1949, in Ft. Payne, Ala., Cook joined forces with singer Randy Owen and bassist Teddy Gentry to form a band in 1969 called Young County. After making another name change to Wild Country, the trio kept at it until 1977, when they finally settled on Alabama and enlisted drummer Mark Herndon to round out the lineup.

In the 1980s, the group soared to major success, racking up an astounding 26 number one hits on the Billboard Country chart including “Tennessee River,” “Feels So Right,” “Mountain Music,” and “Love in the First Degree.” Alabama has also posted 12 top 10 albums and won the CMA Entertainer of the Year Award from 1982 through 1984. Overall, the band is credited with having sold 75 million albums in its career.

Cook was a decorated guitarist. In addition to being inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2005, he is also enshrined in the Musicians Hall of Fame and Fiddlers Hall of Fame.