Musician John Driskell Hopkins, who plays bass in the Zac Brown Band, has been diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) — also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease.
“I have tough news to share,” Hopkins, 51, said in a Friday, May 20, Instagram video, standing beside his bandmates. “Over the past several years, I’ve noticed some balance issues and some stiffness in my hands.”
He continued: “After careful analysis by some of the country’s top neurologists, I’ve been diagnosed with ALS. Because my symptoms have been slow-progressing from the start, we believe they will continue to be slow progressing going forward. God willing, I plan to be rocking with these amazing people for many years to come.”
The Texas native, a founding member of the country band, has since launched the Hop on a Cure foundation to help search for a cure.
“The technology and research around ALS treatments has been advancing, but we still don’t have a cure. Thanks so much for your prayers and helping us cure ALS,” lead singer Zac Brown explained in the Friday social media video.
According to the Mayo Clinic, ALS is a progressive nervous system disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord, causing loss of muscle control. While symptoms vary based on individual cases, it generally is recognized by muscle weakness that spreads and gets worse over time.
Hopkins — who shares three daughters with wife Jennifer Hopkins — is currently performing with the band on their “Out in the Middle” tour. (The Zac Brown Band’s members also include Coy Bowles, Clay Cook, Daniel De Los Reyes, Jimmy De Martini, Chris Fryar and Matt Mangano.)
“Sometimes you see people get into a frenzy like that, they get so excited they can’t stay in their own seat,” the “Chicken Fried” performer told Taste of Country in a September 2012 interview about performing with the Zac Brown Band. “One of my favorite things to watch is when somebody in the crowd is singing along to a song they’ve never heard: I love that!”
He added at the time: “It’s seven dudes who were all athletes. There’s a lot of testosterone up there [on stage]. We’re accustomed to not winning a lot of awards at award shows and things like that and we’re able to shake off that we’re not considered in the middle of the political part of the industry and all of that. But yeah, when you get up to the Top 5 and all, you’re definitely gonna be interested. … We went from bar into radio, and country radio was so very embracing of our sound and of our songs that really made it a joy to cross over into the genre.”