Jeff Cook, a founding member and guitarist of the country supergroup Alabama, passed away peacefully on Monday (Nov. 7) at his home in Destin, Florida. Cook was a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame, Musicians Hall of Fame, Fiddlers Hall of Fame and Gibson’s Guitarist of the Year.
Born Jeffrey Alan Cook in Fort Payne, Alabama on August 27, 1949, he began playing guitar and keyboards in bands by the age of 13. After securing a broadcast license at age 14, Cook went to work as a disc jockey at a local Fort Payne radio station. He eventually went on to own radio and TV stations. Cook graduated from Fort Payne High School and went to college at Gadsden State Community College, earning a degree in Electronic Technology.
Cook formed Alabama along with cousins Teddy Gentry and Randy Owen. After six years of hard work, the band earned a record deal and the rest was history. Alabama became one of the most successful acts in country music history, selling more than 80 million albums and charting 43 No. 1 hits. Their iconic hits include “Song of the South,” “Dixieland Delight,” “I’m in a Hurry (And Don’t Know Why),” “Mountain Music,” “Take Me Down,” “Feels So Right,” “If You’re Gonna Play in Texas (You Gotta Have a Fiddle in the Band),” and many more.
Alabama was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2005. Cook’s technical skill was an integral part of their success. The accomplished musician could play piano, guitar, fiddle, bass guitar, banjo, mandolin, and more. He is credited for introducing the electric double neck guitar to country music.
Jeff Cook married the love of his life, Lisa Williams, on June 9, 1995. The Cooks resided in “Cook Castle” atop Lookout Mountain in Fort Payne, Alabama, as well as in Guntersville, Alabama and Destin/Miramar Beach, Florida. Cook also built Cook Sound Studios in Fort Payne, which allowed him to help musicians share their music with others.
The award-winning guitarist was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 2012. He stopped touring with Alabama in 2018 due to his diagnosis. He was known for his positive attitude despite his physical challenges.
Cook is survived by his wife of 27 years Lisa Cook, beloved puppies Blazer and Blakely, 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 preceded in death by his father James Cook and his mother-in-law, JoAnn Williams.
With his profound desire to help others, 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. In lieu of flowers, the family has requested donations be made to the foundation.
Arrangements for Cook’s Celebration of Life will be announced at a later date.
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