Country superstar Alan Jackson has been battling Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease for more than a decade, but he didn’t go public with his diagnosis until September 2021.
“I have this neuropathy and neurological disease,” the Country Music Hall of Fame member explained during a Today show interview at the time. “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.”
Abbreviated as CMT, Charcot-Marie-Tooth is a hereditary disorder that affects the nervous system, causing progressive loss of muscle tissue and loss of sensation in the arms and legs. Patients may also experience trouble balancing and difficulty walking.
As Jackson explained during his Today appearance, the disease doesn’t shorten life expectancy, but it can make movement extremely difficult — especially for a person used to performing on stage night after night.
“I’ve been reluctant to talk about this publicly and to my fans,” the “Chattahoochee” singer explained when revealing his battle with the disorder, which also affected his grandmother and sister. “It’s called CMT, ironically enough, because CMT was a big part of my career.”
The Grammy winner released his debut album, Here in the Real World, in 1990, eventually becoming one of the most successful country stars of all time. He has sold more than 40 million albums worldwide and has been named the Country Music Association’s Entertainer of the Year three times.
Throughout his career, he’s had wife Denise Jackson by his side. The duo, who were high school sweethearts, tied the knot in 1979 and later welcomed three daughters: Mattie (born in 1990), Ali (born in 1993) and Dani (born in 1997).
The couple briefly separated in 1998, but after their reconciliation, Denise wrote a 2007 memoir about their romance titled It’s All About Him: Finding the Love of My Life. Since his diagnosis, the author has been one of her husband’s biggest supporters.
“When I’m down, he lifts me up. When he’s down, I try to lift him up,” Denise told Jenna Bush Hager in September 2021. “The happy side of that is we’ve had a fairy tale life.”
After opening up about his health battle, Alan announced the Last Call Tour, but he emphasized that he didn’t want to refer to it as a farewell tour. He’s also continued to support his colleagues in the music industry, playing at a Loretta Lynn tribute concert at the Grand Ole Opry in October 2022. The following month, he accepted the Willie Nelson Lifetime Achievement Award at the CMA Awards.
During his speech, he thanked Denise for her unwavering support over the years. “We started out as teenagers, and she’s hung in there and rode this roller-coaster ride with me for 40-something years now,” he said. “I’m probably not always the easiest person to love, but she’s hung in there and helped me through hard times, and we’ve shared great times. The good and the bad, the happy and the sad. We’ve survived a lot.”
Keep scrolling for everything Alan has said about his battle with CMT: