Alabama Co-Founder and Guitarist Jeff Cook Dies

Videos by American Songwriter

Videos by American Songwriter

Alabama co-founder Jeff Cook has died. He was 73.

Cook passed away “peacefully” at his home in Destin, Florida, on Monday (Nov. 7) surrounded by family and close friends, a representative for Cook confirmed. Cook died after a 10-year battle with Parkinson’s disease. He was diagnosed with the disease 2012, but didn’t disclose it publicly until 2017.

In addition to being a founding member of the band in 1969 alongside his cousins Randy Owen and Teddy Gentry, Cook was the group’s guitarist until 2018. That year he retired from touring due to health issues. During Alabama’s career, which spans more than 50 years, the band has achieved multiple hit singles including “Mountain Music,” “Dixieland Delight,” “Song of the South,” and “If You’re Gonna Play in Texas (You Gotta Have a Fiddle in the Band).”

Alabama are the most awarded country band in history, racking up 15 ACM Awards, seven CMA Awards and two Grammy Awards, among others. They were inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum in 2005 and received the Lifetime Achievement Award by the Musicians Hall of Fame in 2019.

Cook played guitar and keyboards in bands as early as age 13 in his native Fort Payne, Alabama, and was a disc jockey during his teen years. In addition to playing electric guitar, Cook was an accomplished multi-instrumentalist, mastering the piano, fiddle, banjo and more. He’s credited for introducing the electric double neck guitar to country music. 

The multi-instrumentalist also engaged in philanthropic efforts, forming The Jeff and Lisa Cook Foundation with his wife in 2021 to provide education and resources to people who have neurological disorders and help their caretakers.

The country community shared its sadness to the news of Cook’s death on social media. “Heartbreaking news,” the Oak Ridge Boys tweeted. “Sending out my deepest condolences to the family, friends and band mates of Jeff Cook,” added Travis Tritt.

In lieu of flowers, Cook’s family has requested that donations be made to The Jeff and Lisa Cook Foundation. Details regarding a “Celebration of Life” for Cook will be announced at a later date.

Photo by Kristen Van Zant

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