Jeff Cook, Co-Founder And Instrumentalist With Country Giants Alabama, Dies At 73

One of country’s most successful bands ever, Alabama were inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2005.

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Jeff Cook - Photo: Jason Davis/Getty Images for The Country Music Hall Of Fame
Jeff Cook - Photo: Jason Davis/Getty Images for The Country Music Hall Of Fame

Jeff Cook, co-founder and multi-instrumentalist of country giants Alabama, died yesterday (8) at the age of 73. He had been suffering from Parkinson’s disease, a diagnosis he disclosed in 2017. Don Murry Grubbs, a representative for the band, confirmed that he passed away at his home in Destin, Florida.

Alabama, formed in 1969 as Young Country in Fort Payne, Alabama (where Cook was born in 1949), had an extraordinary total of 32 No.1 country hits from their first, 1980’s “Tennessee River,” to “Reckless” in 1993. Other signature songs included “Jukebox In My Mind,” “Feels So Right,” and “Love In The First Degree.” They amassed 51 Top 10 hits, the last with a 1999 version of NSYNC’s “God Must Have Spent A Little More Time On You” which featured the pop band themselves.

The country group’s album achievements included the remarkable feat of two separate best-of compilations each certified five-times platinum, 1986’s Greatest Hits and 1998’s For The Record. They also hit quintuple platinum with 1982’s Mountain Music and quadruple platinum with three other albums.

Nine-time CMA Award-winners

The band won a total of nine CMA Awards, including CMA Entertainer of the Year three years in a row during their heyday of 1982–1984). They were the CMA’s Vocal Group of the Year, also for three consecutive years, 1981-83, Instrumental Group of the Year in 1981 and 1982, and won Album of the Year for The Closer You Get in 1983. They were inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2005.

Alabama also won the ACM Artist of the Decade Award for the 1980s and are the most awarded group in ACM Awards history. Cook himself was inducted into the Musicians Hall of Fame and Museum in 2019.

“Few bands are more ubiquitous in country music today than Alabama,” said Country Music Association CEO Sarah Trahern. “Jeff was instrumental to Alabama’s high energy stage presence and authentic Country sound. My deepest condolences to Jeff’s family, friends and the band.”

Praise for Cook also arrived from many of his peers and those beyond country music, Jason Aldean wrote on Twitter: “I got a chance to perform with him multiple times over the years and I will never forget it,” while Mike Love of the Beach Boys posted: “Very sad to hear of the passing of a founding member of one of America’s greatest groups, Alabama. Rest in peace Jeff Cook. We’ll miss you.” Travis Tritt noted: “Sending out my deepest condolences to the family, friends and band mates of Jeff Cook from @TheAlabamaBand. Such a great guy an one heckuva bass fisherman. He will be truly missed.”

Ricky Skaggs wrote: “So sorry to hear of the passing of Jeff Cook from the group Alabama. Jeff was such an integral part of their sound. He was a great musician and singer. Rest in peace old friend.” Fellow longtime favorites the Oak Ridge Boys added: “Jeff Cook was a long time friend and brother as has been Randy and Teddy over all these times passing! This is a heartbreaking loss for all that knew Jeff. ALABAMA is in our prayers…rest in peace Jeff…until the day…Joe, Duane, William Lee and Richard.”

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