Jeff Cook, founding member and legendary guitarist of the supergroup ALABAMA, has died. 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 peacefully yesterday, November 7, with his family and close friends by his side at his beach home in Destin, Florida. He was 73. The multi-award winning guitarist was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 2012. Cook was a champion in all he attempted and he courageously faced his battle with a positive attitude.
Jeffrey Alan Cook was born in Fort Payne, Alabama on August 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. The broadcast bug had entered his blood and later resulted in him owning radio and TV stations. After graduating from Fort Payne High School, Cook received a degree in Electronic Technology from Gadsden State Community College in Gadsden, Alabama and was named “Outstanding Alumni” by the American Association of Community Colleges. Cook loved that radio combined two of his favorite things, music and electronics.
One of Cook’s lifelong dreams came true with the construction of Cook Sound Studios and his home, “Cook Castle,” based in Fort Payne. The studio was a way for him to help musicians share their music with others. Outside of music, one of his favorite hobbies was bass fishing. He was proud to be an official “Fishing Ambassador” to the state of Alabama, as proclaimed by five Governors.
Cook is credited for introducing the electric double neck guitar to country music. He was also an accomplished musician with the ability to play piano, guitar, fiddle, bass guitar, banjo, mandolin and anything else thrown in front of him.
He married the love of his life, Lisa Williams, on June 9, 1995. The Cooks resided in “Cook Castle” atop Lookout Mountain in Fort Payne, AL, Guntersville, AL and Destin/Miramar Beach, FL.
As a member of ALABAMA, Cook enjoyed one of the most successful careers in country music history. Over 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, South Carolina bar called The Bowery. 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. Then, seemingly no time at all to change the face of country music forever. Cook’s iconic guitar licks, unique fiddle style, exceptional vocals and harmony, along with his bandmates, went on to sell 80 million albums and charted 43 No. 1 hits, becoming the biggest group in the history of the country genre.
Due to Cook’s health battle, he ceased touring with ALABAMA in 2018. With his encouragement and well wishes, ALABAMA went on because Cook never wanted “the music to stop or the party to end.”
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.
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 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 or through the foundation website: thejeffandlisacookfoundation.org.
A celebration of life will be announced at a later time.