Alabama, one of the most successful country music acts of all time with 33 No. 1 country hits, including 21 in a row, lost Jeff Cook on Tuesday at his home in Destin, Florida, according to a band representative. Cook was also the band’s founding guitarist, keyboardist, and fiddler. He was 73.
Parkinson’s disease was the source of Cook’s 2017 diagnosis. In the early 1970s, Cook, his cousins Randy Owen, a singer-guitarist, and Teddy Gentry, a bassist, along with drummer Bennett Vartanian, co-founded the band. Cook was born on August 27, 1949, in Fort Payne, Alabama.
After spending several summers performing at The Bowery, a bar in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, the group changed its name to Alabama in 1977. In 1980, “My Home’s in Alabama” became their breakthrough single and peaked at No. 17 on the Billboard Hot Country Songs. With the exception of a 1982 holiday tune, the quartet’s subsequent 21 singles all peaked at the top of that chart after its initial breakthrough.
From 1980 through 2011, the group with a Southern rock edge amassed 20 platinum albums and more over 50 Top 10 country singles, including timeless classics like “Song of the South” and “Jukebox in My Mind.” According to the RIAA, they have sold close to 50 million albums in the United States, making them the 31st best-selling act of all time.