Alabama Releases Emotional Tribute Video to Jeff Cook: VIDEO

by Suzanne Halliburton
Rick Diamond/Getty Images for Country Music Hall of Fame & Museum

Fans of Alabama still are posting sweet, emotional tributes to Jeff Cook, the country music super group’s fiddle player who died earlier this week.

And Alabama also is sharing some of those videos, including this one created by Nashville videographer Cooper Smith. The video isn’t narrated. Rather, it allows the music to do the storytelling as it focuses on Cook’s warmth and brilliance.

Alabama announced the death of Cook earlier this week. The group was a family, by blood and music. Cook had suffered from Parkinson’s disease for more than a decade. He acknowledged his condition in 2017. Finally, on Monday, he took his final breath. He passed away at his home in Destin, Fla., with his family by his side.

Cook and his cousins Randy Owen and Teddy Gentry created the group in 1969. Eight years later, the group changed its name to Alabama to honor the cousins’ home state. By the 1980s, Alabama reached dizzying success in country music as they released hit after hit. All total, the group had 27 No. 1 records during the 80s, giving the decade a definitive Alabama flavor of traditional country with a helping of Southern rock. Overall, Alabama rolled to 32 No. 1s.

In an interview in 2017, Cook described what set Alabama from other country groups like the Oak Ridge Boys and Statler Brothers. He said it was because the group actually was its own band. They sang and played.

“Up to that point it had always been one or two — or, in some cases, maybe even four — people with a backup band, and that’s what we called a country act,” Cook told FuseVisual. “We were the first ones who actually sang our own music and played our own stuff as a group.”

Alabama performed together in 2016 for the 50th anniversary of the CMA Awards. (Taylor Hill/Getty Images)

Cook was the group’s lead guitarist. He also played the fiddle and keyboard, while doing harmonies with Gentry. When honoring Cook’s life, both Gentry and Owen mentioned their cousin’s vast musical talent.

“He lived to play our music we created together,” Owen said of Cook. “But his harmonies I’ll miss the most. I’m thankful we got to create music together for over 50 years! Wish we could play My Home’s in Alabama one more time.”

In his statement, Owen also added: “We lived together more than with our immediate families. Don’t think I’ve known anyone who loved playing more. Jeff, along with me and Randy, experienced the highs of undreamed success, as well as some very tough early years.” 

Those early years were back when the group went by Wild Country and played the bar circuit in their home state.

Meanwhile, Gentry said that the cousins, together, made special music. Cook was a vital part of that.

“No other guitar player I’ve known had the range of styles Jeff had,” Gentry said. “No one can take your place. Ever. Rest in peace till we get to jam again.”