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Alabama Co-Founder Jeff Cook Dies at 73

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Guitarist Jeff Cook, who co-founded the mega-successful country group Alabama and steered them up the charts with such hits as “Song of the South” and “Dixieland Delight,” has died. He was 73.

Cook had Parkinson’s disease and disclosed his diagnosis in 2017. He died Tuesday (Nov. 8) at his home in Destin, Florida, said Don Murry Grubbs, a representative for the band.

Tributes poured in from country stars, including Travis Tritt who called Cook “a great guy and one heckuva bass fisherman” and Charlie Daniels, who tweeted that “Heaven gained another guitar/fiddle player today.”

As a guitarist, fiddle player and vocalist, Cook — alongside cousins Randy Owen and Teddy Gentry — landed 33 No. 1 songs on Billboard‘s Hot Country Songs chart, including 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.”

The band had a three-year run as CMA entertainer of the year from 1982-85 and received five ACM Awards trophies in that same category from 1981-85. The band was the first three-time winner and the first five-time winner of that top award at the respective shows. Cook 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.

Survivors include his wife, Lisa.

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