Jeff Cook, Alabama co-founder and Country Music Hall of Fame member, dies at 73
Jeff Cook, a guitarist and founding member of the country rock band Alabama, died Monday at his home in Destin, Fla., at 73.
A representative for the group said in a news release that Cook was surrounded by close friends and family in his final moments. A cause of death was not provided, though the musician was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease in 2012.
Born in Fort Payne, Ala., Cook took up music from a young age, starting with guitar and keyboards at 13. He would go on to get a broadcast license at 14 and work as a DJ for the local radio station. Later, he would own radio and TV stations himself.
Cook formed Alabama with cousins Teddy Gentry and Randy Owen more than 50 years ago. They first called themselves Wild Country, before changing their name in 1977.
John Weast/Getty Jeff Cook
The group — known for songs such as "Tennessee River," "Love in the First Degree," "Mountain Music," "Dixieland Delight," "If You're Gonna Play in Texas (You Gotta Have a Fiddle in the Band)," and "Song of the South" — would go on to sell 80 million albums and chart 43 No. 1 hits.
Cook is credited for introducing the electric double-neck guitar to country music and was an accomplished instrumentalist, able to play piano, fiddle, bass guitar, banjo, mandolin, and more. Over the course of his career, Cook was honored as a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame, Musicians Hall of Fame, and Fiddlers Hall of Fame.
As a result of his Parkinson's diagnosis, Cook stepped away from touring in 2018, though Alabama continued performing with his blessing. Along with his wife, Lisa, Cook would go on to form the Jeff and Lisa Cook Children's Home to house orphaned children worldwide, starting in the Philippines.
In addition to his wife of 27 years, Cook is survived by his mother, Betty Cook; brother David Cook; Crystal Cook; father-in-law Jerrial Williams; brother-in-law Randy Williams; and many nieces and nephews.