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Jeff Cooke, co-founder of the country band Alabama, has died at the age of 73

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NEW YORK — Guitarist Jeff Cooke, who co-founded the successful country group Alabama and led it to chart-topping hits such as “Song of the South” and “Dixieland Delight,” has died. He was 73.

Cook suffered from Parkinson’s disease and announced his diagnosis in 2017. He died Tuesday at his home in Destin, Fla., said Dawn Mary Grubbs, a spokesman for the band.

Tributes poured in from country stars, including Travis Tritt, who called Cook “a great guy and a great bass fisherman.”

As a guitarist, fiddler and vocalist, Cook — along with cousins ​​Randy Owen and Teddy Gentry — scored eight No. 1 songs on the country charts from the spring of 1980 to the summer of 1982, according to the Country Music Hall of Fame. The series included the pop crossover hits “Love In The First Degree” and “Feels So Right”, as well as “Tennessee River” and “Mountain Music”.

“Jeff Cooke and all the Alabama guys were so generous with wisdom and fun when I toured with them as a young artist,” Kenny Chesney said in a statement. “They showed the kid in the T-shirt that country music can be rock, can be real, can be a person like me. Growing up in East Tennessee made me want to chase that dream.”

The band was named CMA Entertainer of the Year for three years from 1982 to 1985 and won five ACM Awards for Entertainer of the Year from 1981 to 1985. He stopped touring with Alabama in 2018.

Cook has released several solo projects and toured with his band Allstar Goodtime. He has also released collaborations with Charlie Daniels and Star Trek star William Shatner. He was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2005 as a member of Alabama.

Survivors include his wife, Lisa.

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