Alan Jackson smiling on stage

Country Star Alan Jackson Opens Up About Heartbreaking Diagnosis

Legendary country star Alan Jackson is opening up about a diagnosis that has affected his life for 10 years.
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Alan Jackson is finally opening about an illness that has been affecting him for many years.

In an interview with Today’s Jenna Bush Hager from the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum in Nashville, the country star revealed he’s been diagnosed with a degenerative nerve condition called Charcot-Marie Tooth (CMT) disease.

Alan Jackson sitting on stool playing guitar

Jackson was diagnosed with the disease 10 years ago, but it has only recently affected his ability to walk and play music. 

Inherited the Disease From His Father

Jackson told Hager that though he inherited the disease from his father, it’s become more of an issue as he’s gotten older.

“It’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,” he explained.

“I know I’m stumbling around on stage. And now I’m having a little trouble balancing, even in front of the microphone, and so I just feel very uncomfortable.”

Thankfully, Jackson has the support of his wife, Denise Jackson, who has been by his side for 41 years.

“When I’m down, he lifts me up. When he’s down, I try to lift him up. The happy side of that is we’ve had a fairy-tale life,” she shared.

What Is Charcot-Marie Tooth Disease?

CMT is a condition that affects the nervous system in the body. It can also cause balance problems.

“Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease results in smaller, weaker muscles. You may also experience loss of sensation and muscle contractions, and difficulty walking,” the Mayo Clinic explained about the disease.

Alan Jackson on stage

“Foot deformities such as hammertoes and high arches also are common. Symptoms usually begin in the feet and legs, but they may eventually affect your hands and arms.”

While this disease is very similar to muscular dystrophy and Parkison’s disease, the good news is it’s not fatal. In fact, CMT does not alter life expectancy, though it can make it very difficult to get around comfortably. 

Will He Stop Touring?

Despite having trouble with his balance, Jackson isn’t planning on retiring just yet. The “Don’t Rock the Jukebox” singer is still hoping to tour as much as he can, or as much as his body will allow him to.

“I never wanted to do the big retirement tour, like people do, then take a year off and then come back,” he shared.

“I think that’s kinda cheesy. And I’m not saying I won’t be able to tour. I’ll try to do as much as I can.”

Alan Jackson Hollywood Walk of Fame

Jackson, who was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum in 2017, is just happy to be at a point in his life where he can make the kind of music he wants to make. 

“I feel a little more freedom now, because I’m not trying to worry about getting on the radio and fitting into their limitations,” he said.

“I’ve always believed that the music is the most important thing. The songs. And I guess that’s what I’d like to (leave) if I had a legacy,” Jackson said.