“I’ve been reluctant to talk about this publicly and to my fans…”
That’s how Alan Jackson began his response to the TODAY show’s Jenna Bush Hager in an exclusive sit-down about music, family, and health.
“It’s starting to affect my performance on stage a little bit.”
“(I don’t want the fans) to think I’m drunk on stage because I’m having problems with mobility and balance.”
Jackson then reveals he has a genetic disease he got from his dad called CMT (which he cracks a joke about), or Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease.
According to Mayo Clinic, CMT “is a group of inherited disorders that cause nerve damage. This damage is mostly in the arms and legs (peripheral nerves). Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease is also called hereditary motor and sensory neuropathy. Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease results in smaller, weaker muscles. You may also experience loss of sensation and muscle contractions, and difficulty walking. 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.”
Unfortunately, there is no cure for it. He was diagnosed with the disease 10 years ago.
One of the greatest to ever to do it, and my all-time personal favorite, Alan says he’s not about some big fancy retirement tour, but does reiterate he’ll try to tour and perform as much as he can given the condition.
As vulnerable as you’ll ever see him, AJ says he’s having a tough time balancing in front of the microphone and feels “very uncomfortable” but he says “it’s not going to kill me.”
He goes on to say it’s a huge relief to finally talk about this as he’s become more and more self-conscious on stage as of late. It’s an emotional interview but one he felt needed to happen for the fans, and he has his family helping him through it.
His wife Denise says, “When I’m down he lifts me up, and when he’s down I try to lift him up.”
Here’s the condensed five minute clip: