Hal Ketchum has been diagnosed with Alzheimer's and dementia. Ketchum's wife, Andrea, shared the heartbreaking news on social media.
"Dear friends and fans of Hal, this is Andrea, Hal's wife," the post began. "I know everyone is wondering why there are no future tour dates, and speculations as to the reason. Our family would like to share the cause for this. Unfortunately, Hal is suffering from Alzheimer's/ Dementia. He has been battling this for some time now, but because of his love for his fans, he continued performing as long as it was possible. Dementia is an exhausting and confusing illness and now it's time for Hal to stay home with loved ones. Hal is otherwise healthy and happy, enjoying time with his family and friends. We all deeply appreciate how much love that you all have for Hal and how much his music means to you!
"Also, a heartfelt thank you to all the incredible musicians that have joined him on this journey, with more than special love to Kenny Grimes, without whom, this last year of shows would not have been possible," she continued. "Please know that I do read all of your comments to Hal and that we will continue to check in from time to time. Lots of love and appreciation to you all from Hal and the entire Ketchum family."
After thousands of fans commented on Andrea's post, she responded with gratitude for how much love Ketchum and his family was receiving.
"We thank you all for your overwhelming love," she wrote. "I wish that we could personally thank each and everyone of you but trust me, all of your comments will be read by me and the entire Ketchum family."
Although it's unclear when Kethcum played his final show, it appears he was still performing at least into early fall.
Kethcum released more than a dozen albums over the course of his career, and had several hit songs, including "Small Town Saturday Night," "Hearts Are Gonna Roll," "Mama Knows the Highway" and more.
Only a few days prior to Kethcum's wife announcing the disease, the Grand Ole Opry member posted a photo of himself on social media, announcing his 66th birthday.
"66 today....boy have the years flown by!" Ketchum wrote. "Out enjoying a beautiful spring day in Fredricksburg with my family."
In an interview last year, Ketchum said that he had already mostly retired, except for performing.0comments
“I’m intrinsically lazy. I’m happy to be enjoying the fruits of my labors,” Ketchum told the Santa Clarita Gazette. “I’m not writing or in the studio. I’ve had a wonderful career. I just bought a new fly rod.”
Photo Credit: Getty images/Gary Miller