Alabama's Jeff Cook passes away
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Alabama's Jeff Cook passes away

Tuesday, November 8, 2022 – Jeff Cook, founding member and guitarist of the Alabama, died on Monday at 73. Cook, a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame, Musicians Hall of Fame, Fiddlers Hall of Fame and Gibson's Guitarist of the Year, passed away with his family and close friends by his side at his beach home in Destin, Fla.

Cook was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease in 2012.

"Few bands are more ubiquitous in country music today than Alabama. 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," said Sarah Trahern, Country Music Association chief executive officer.

Jeffrey Alan Cook was born in Fort Payne, Ala. on Aug. 27, 1949. He began playing lead guitar and keyboards in bands at the age of 13. Securing a broadcast license only three days after his 14th birthday, Cook went to work as a disc jockey at a local Fort Payne radio station.

After graduating from Fort Payne High School, Cook received a degree in electronic technology from Gadsden State Community College in Gadsden, Ala. and was named "Outstanding Alumni" by the American Association of Community Colleges.

Cook played the electric double neck guitar and also played piano, guitar, fiddle, bass guitar, banjo and mandolin.

More than 50 years ago, Cook, along with cousins Teddy Gentry and Randy Owen, left Fort Payne to spend the summer playing music in a Myrtle Beach, S.C. bar called The Bowery. The band was called Wildcountry. It took Cook, Gentry and Owen six long years of tip jars and word-of-mouth to earn the major label deal they'd been dreaming of. By 1977, the band was called Alabama.

The group went on to sell 80 million albums and charted 43 number one hits, becoming the biggest group in the history of the country genre.

Alabama's first single on RCA Records, "Tennessee River," started a streak of 21 number one singles, including "Love in the First Degree," (1981) "Mountain Music," (1982) "Dixieland Delight," (1983) "If You're Gonna Play in Texas (You Gotta Have a Fiddle in the Band)" (1984) and "Song of the South" (1988).

Alabama became less popular in the 1990's, but continued recording. The group disbanded in 2004 after a farewell tour and two albums of inspirational music. Alabama reunited in 2010 and have continued to record and tour worldwide.

Due to Cook's health battle, he ceased touring with Alabama in 2018. The band continued touring because Cook never wanted "the music to stop or the party to end."

Cook also released 10 solo albums on his own, his most recent being 2018's "Why Not Me" with William Shatner.

He married Lisa Williams, on June 9, 1995. The Cooks resided in "Cook Castle" atop Lookout Mountain in Fort Payne, Ala., Guntersville, Ala. and Destin/Miramar Beach, Fla.

One of Cook's lifelong dreams came true with the construction of Cook Sound Studios and his home, "Cook Castle," based in Fort Payne. He also enjoyed bass fishing and was an official "Fishing Ambassador" to the state of Alabama, as proclaimed by five governors.

The Jeff and Lisa Cook Foundation was formed along with The Jeff and Lisa Cook Children's Home to house orphaned children worldwide, starting in the Philippines.

Cook is survived by his wife of 27 years Lisa Cook, his mother Betty Cook, his brother David Cook, Crystal Cook, his father-in-law Jerrial Williams, his brother-in-law Randy Williams and many nieces and nephews. Cook was pre-deceased by his father James Cook and his mother-in-law, JoAnn Williams.

In lieu of flowers, the family has requested donations be made to The Jeff and Lisa Cook Foundation, P.O. Box 680067, Fort Payne, AL 35968.

Arrangements for Cook's "Celebration of Life" will be announced at a later date.

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CD reviews for Alabama

CD review - American Christmas With its 15-song "American Christmas," Alabama covers nearly every nook and cranny in the holiday album spectrum. And it's just as good, as it is complete. The song that hits first, and hits hardest, is "First Christmas Without Daddy." This loving remembrance for a deceased father asks sadly, "Who's gonna lead the family prayer?" As Christmas is as much about family gatherings, as it is about all the popular sights and sounds, Randy Owen both remembers his ...
CD review - Southern Drawl With all the belly aching about country music not staying true to its roots, maybe instead of a new entry into the landscape, it is time for a re-entry. Many hoped that Alabama's latest, "Southern Drawl" would be the cure to what ails the traditionalists. But the iconic band tried to walk a very fine line on its first release since 2001's "When It All Goes South." Back in their Eighties heyday, the group put the country rock sound on the map. ...
CD review - Angels Among Us Hymns & Gospel Favorites The threads of faith and family are intrinsically woven throughout the fibers of country music, but the results of such albums are not always successful, with some records feeling dry and inspired while others take the bull by the horns and really engage the material. Alabama's latest offering, "Angels Among Us: Hymns & Gospel Favorites," falls into the latter category. That's not to say that Alabama reinvents the wheel here, but, rather, that they tackle the source ...

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