Country music superstar, Alan Jackson has revealed he is living with a degenerative nerve condition that is impacting his ability to tour and perform.
In an exclusive interview with Jenna Bush Hager on NBC’s Today, Jackson went public with the news that he has inherited a rare condition known as “CMT” (Charcot-Marie-Tooth Disorder).
He shares, “I’ve been reluctant to talk about this publicly and to my fans, but I have this neuropathy – a neurological disease that’s genetic that I inherited from my daddy. There’s no cure for it, but it’s been affecting me for years. And it’s getting more and more obvious.”
Jackson has been living with CMT since first being diagnosed a decade ago. It causes abnormalities in the nerves that supply the feet, legs, hands, and arms … affecting motor and sensory nerves. Though relatively rare, the disorder is inherited – Jackson recalls his father and grandmother having it; his oldest sister has it, too. CMT is progressive; there is no known cure.
“It’s not going to kill me – it’s not deadly,” Jackson assures fans, explaining CMT is related to such things as muscular dystrophy and Parkinson’s disease.
“I know I’m stumbling around onstage, and now I’m having a little trouble balancing even in front of a microphone. I was starting to get so self-conscious up there … so if anybody’s curious why I don’t walk right, that’s why. I just wanted the fans and the public to know. I don’t want ’em to think I’m drunk onstage because I’m having problems with mobility and balance.”
For Jackson, CMT often manifests in muscle weakness, discomfort and pain, especially when standing for lengthy periods to entertain crowds from a concert stage. Though he’s been living with his diagnosis for ten years, the Country Music Hall of Famer has continued to entertain, touring annually from coast-to-coast. And he hopes to continue performing.
“I never wanted to do the retirement tour like people do and then take a year off and then come back,” he says, expressing admiration for his personal heroes Merle Haggard, George Jones, Loretta Lynn, Willie Nelson and Charley Pride. “They never retired; just played as much as they could or want to. I always thought I’d like to do that, and I would like to do that if my health will let me.”
“I don’t want people to be sad for me; it’s just part of life. I’ve had a wonderful, beautiful life. I’ve been so blessed. It’s just good to put it out there in the open. In some ways, it’s a relief.”
Jackson released his latest album, Where Have You Gone in May – his first studio album in six years. The 21-track collection, which debuted at #1 on the Australian country charts, features 15 songs penned solely by the music icon. Where Have You Gone is Jackson’s 16th studio album – the 25th in a career that includes two Christmas albums, two gospel albums, three Greatest Hits collections, a bluegrass album, and one boxed set.
Keep up to date with Alan Jackson on his Facebook page here.
For more breaking news from CountryTown, check out here.