Alan Jackson revealed he has a degenerative nerve condition known as Charcot-Marie-Tooth (CMT) Disorder which impacts his ability to tour and perform.
The condition, which is inherited, was passed down from Jackson’s father and grandmother. The country artist has been living with CMT since being diagnosed over a decade ago.
The condition causes abnormalities in the nerves that supply the feet, legs, hands, and arms, thereby affecting his motor and sensory nerves. Though relatively rare, the disorder is progressive and there is no known cure.
“I’ve been reluctant to talk about this publicly and to my fans, but I have this neuropathy–a neurological disease that’s genetic that I inherited from my daddy,” Jackson shared with Jenna Bush Hager on NBC’s Today. “There’s no cure for it, but it’s been affecting me for years. And it’s getting more and more obvious. It’s not going to kill me–it’s not deadly. I know I’m stumbling around onstage, and now I’m having a little trouble balancing even in front of a microphone.” He continued, “I’m just very uncomfortable. I was starting to get so self-conscious up there… so if anybody’s curious why I don’t walk right, that’s why. I just wanted the fans and the public to know. I don’t want ’em to think I’m drunk onstage because I’m having problems with mobility and balance.”
For Jackson, CMT often manifests in muscle weakness, discomfort and pain, especially when standing for lengthy periods to entertain crowds from a concert stage. Though he’s been living with his diagnosis for ten years, the Country Music Hall of Famer has continued to tour annually.
“I never wanted to do the retirement tour like people do and then take a year off and then come back,” he explained. “I don’t know how much I’ll continue to tour. I’m not saying I won’t be able to tour. I’ll try to do as much as I can. I don’t want people to be sad for me; it’s just part of life. I’ve had a wonderful, beautiful life. I’ve been so blessed. It’s just good to put it out there in the open. In some ways, it’s a relief.”
Jackson, who released another chart-topping album, Where Have You Gone, earlier this year, will be onstage next week in Nashville as he plays a hometown show at Bridgestone Arena. The show was postponed from its original 2020 date due to the pandemic.
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