West News Wire: Jeff Cook, a guitarist who helped form Alabama and propelled them to success with songs like “Song of the South” and “Dixieland Delight,” has passed away. He was 73.

Cook revealed his diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease in 2017. According to Don Murry Grubbs, a member of the band, he passed away on Tuesday at his residence in Destin, Florida.

Country music luminaries paid tribute to Cook, describing him as “a terrific guy and one heckuva bass fisherman” in a tweet from Travis Tritt. Jason Aldean also tweeted: “I got a chance to perform with him several times over the years and I will never forget it.” Everything he accomplished was steeped in his strong love of country music, said Kyle Young, CEO of the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum.

As a guitarist, fiddle player and vocalist, Cook alongside cousins Randy Owen and Teddy Gentry landed eight No. 1 songs on the country charts between spring 1980 and summer 1982, according to the Country Music Hall of Fame. That run included the pop crossover hits “Love In The First Degree” and “Feels So Right,” as well as “Tennessee River” and “Mountain Music.”

“Jeff Cook, and all of the guys in Alabama, were so generous with wisdom and fun when I got to tour with them as a young artist,” Kenny Chesney said in a statement. “They showed a kid in a T-shirt that country music could be rock, could be real, could be someone who looked like me. Growing up in East Tennessee, that gave me the heart to chase this dream.”

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The band had a three-year run as CMA Entertainer of the Year from 1982-1985 and earned five ACM Award Entertainer of the Year trophies from 1981-1985. He stopped touring with Alabama in 2018.

Cook released a handful of solo projects and toured with his Allstar Goodtime Band. He also released collaborations with Charlie Daniels and “Star Trek” star William Shatner. He entered the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2005 as a member of Alabama.

A song he co-wrote in 2015, “No Bad Days,” took on new meaning after his diagnosis. “After I got the Parkinson’s diagnosis, people would quote the song to me and say, ‘No bad days,’” Cook told The Tennessean in 2019. “They write me letters, notes and emails and they sign ‘No Bad Days.’ I know the support is there.”

Survivors include his wife, Lisa.


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