Country music legend Jeff Cook passed away earlier this month, according to The Tennessean. Cook is best known as a founding member of the band Alabama, performing hits that owned the '90s country chart. A representative for the group confirmed the news of his death in a statement. Cook died at home after a prolonged battle with Parkinson's Disease.
Cook is best known for singing and playing the guitar and the fiddle in Alabama throughout the 1970s and 1980s. Some of his best-known songs with the group include "Song of the South," "Mountain Music," "I'm In A Hurry," "Cheap Seats" and "My Home's In Alabama." Cook never left the band, though he did publicly disclose his diagnosis with Parkinson's Disease in 2017. At the time of his death on Tuesday, he as 73 years old.
Cook was born in a small town called Fort Payne, Alabama, and co-founded his band with his his cousins Randy Owen and Teddy Gentry, both of whom he grew up with. Their group was originally called Wildcountry, and established its style with a blend of country music songwriting and southern rock sound. They would not take on their more famous name Alabama until 1977.
Cook had experience working in radio, and his band amassed some of their earliest fans thanks to persistent radio play. Starting with their name change, they also picked up full-time drummer Mark Herndon. Finally, in 1979 they got their big break at the Country Radio Seminar in Nashville, Tennessee. Thanks to their performance there they signed a record deal with RCA.
While some of Alabama's best-known songs are still from their first album, the band's heyday arguably came in the 1980s. They stayed at the top of the charts consistently, all while breaking the mold of the genre they were working in. While the country music landscape was dominated mainly by solo acts, Alabama stood out as an instrumental-heavy ensemble.
If instrumental arrangements and genre fusions were Alabama's calling card, then Cook was arguably its mastermind. He held his own on stage while playing guitar, fiddle and keyboards – all while singing and even dancing along with the crowd. News of his passing has taken social media by surprise, and many other entertainers are already remarking on Cook's incredible legacy.
Cook's personal life remains relatively private, so no details on his family are available at this time. So far, no plans for his funeral or memorial have been announced.