Musician John Driskel Hopkins, who plays bass in Zack’s band Brown was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.
“I have some bad news that I want to share,” Hopkins, 51, said in an Instagram video Friday, May 20, while standing next to his bandmates. “Over the past few years, I’ve noticed some balance issues and some stiffness in my hands.”
He continued: “After a thorough analysis conducted by the country’s leading neurologists, I was diagnosed with ALS. Since my symptoms progressed slowly from the very beginning, we believe that they will continue to progress slowly. God willing, I plan to play with these wonderful people for many years to come.”
The Texas native, one of the founders of the country band, has since founded the Hop on the Cure foundation to help find a cure.
“Technologies and research in the field of ALS treatment are developing, but there is still no cure. Thank you so much for your prayers and help in treating ALS,” explained lead singer Zach Brown in a Friday video on social media.
According to the Mayo Clinic, ALS is a progressive disease of the nervous system that affects nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord, causing a loss of muscle control. Although symptoms vary depending on individual cases, it is usually recognized by muscle weakness that spreads and worsens over time.
Hopkins, who shares three daughters with his wife Jennifer Hopkins, is currently performing with the band on their “Out in the Middle” tour. (The Zac Brown Band also includes Coy Bowles, Clay Cook, Daniel De Los Reyes, Jimmy De Martini, Chris Friar and Matt Mangano.)
“Sometimes you see people go into such a frenzy, they’re so excited that they can’t stay in their place,” the “Chicken Fried” singer told Taste of Country in September 2012 in an interview about performing with the Zac Brown Band. “One of my favorite things is when someone in the crowd, he sings along to a song that he has never heard: I like it!”
At the time, he added, “These are seven guys who were all athletes. There’s a lot of testosterone out there [on stage]. We are used to not receiving a lot of awards at awards and similar things, and we can get rid of the fact that we are not considered in the center of the political part of the industry and all that. But yes, when you get into the top 5 and all that, you will definitely be interested. … We moved from the bar to the radio, and country radio covered our sound and our songs so much that the transition to this genre was really a joy.”