What is Charcot-Marie-Tooth Disease? — Alan Jackson Health Update Explained

what is Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease
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what is Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease
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Photo Credit: Joe Bielawa / CC by 2.0

As Alan Jackson continues his farewell tour, fans wonder about his battle with a degenerative nerve condition. Here’s the latest on Alan Jackson’s upcoming tour, and his struggles with Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease.

Country legend Alan Jackson revealed back in 2021 in an interview with Today that he had been diagnosed with a genetic disease called Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease, an ailment inherited from his father. In truth, Jackson was diagnosed with the condition a decade prior to his revealing it to the public. Now, he’s winding down his career as a touring musician as the degenerative nerve disease worsens, announcing a farewell tour late this summer and running into May 2025.

What is Charcot-Marie-Tooth Disease?

According to Mayo Clinic, Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease (CMT) is a genetic neurological condition causing damage to the peripheral nerves connecting the spine and brain to the arms and legs. One of the most common inherited neurological conditions, CMT affects around one in every 2,500 people in the United States, according to data from the Hereditary Neuropathy Foundation.

Nerve damage from CMT can cause muscle weakness and even shrinkage, especially in the ankles and feet. Some patients also develop weakness in their hands, but this is less common. According to Dr. John Kincaid, a neurologist at Indiana University School of Medicine who specializes in CMT, most patients do not experience “a major pain component.” Muscle weakness is the primary symptom.

The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke says there is no cure for Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease, but it can be managed with supportive therapy. Jackson says his is becoming more noticeable with time.

During the 2021 interview, he admitted he was already starting to have problems performing, describing issues with “stumbling around” on stage. “I’m having a little trouble balancing, even in front of the microphone, and so I just feel very uncomfortable.”

Although the disease causes balance problems, it does not alter life expectancy. “It’s not going to kill me. It’s not deadly,” Jackson said. “But it’s related to muscular dystrophy and Parkinson’s disease.”

Where is Alan Jackson Now?

Alan Jackson admits that it’s ironic for a disease called CMT to lead him to plan his farewell tour, since CMT (Country Music Television) was such an integral part of his early career. With over three decades on the country music scene under his belt, Jackson was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum in 2017.

“I never wanted to do the big retirement tour, like people do, then take a year off and then come back,” Jackson told Today in 2021. “I think that’s kind of cheesy. And I’m not saying I won’t be able to tour. I’ll try to do as much as I can.

Last week, the 65-year-old announced what is presumed to be the final dates of his farewell tour, “Last Call: One More for the Road.” The tour originally kicked off in 2022, and will continue this summer with performances in 10 US cities through May next year.

“Fans know when they come to my shows, they’re going to hear the songs that made me who I am,” said Jackson. “My fans always show up to have a good time, and I’m going to give them the best show I can for this Last Call.”

Tickets for the upcoming dates go on sale starting Friday, June 7, with $1 from every ticket sold going toward the CMT Research Foundation (CMTRF). A group of CMTRF donors will match each donation.

Alan Jackson’s Last Call: One More for the Road Tour

2024

August

  • 02 | TD Garden — Boston, MA
  • 24 | Van Andel Arena — Grand Rapids, MI

September

  • 28 | Bud Walton Arena — Fayetteville, AR

October

  • 26 | T-Mobile Center — Kansas City, MO

November

  • 16 | Delta Center — Salt Lake City, UT

2025

January

  • 18 | Paycom Center — Oklahoma City, OK

February

  • 15 | Dickies Arena — Fort Worth, TX

March

  • 07 | Kia Center — Orlando, FL

April

  • 26 | Amalie Arena — Tampa, FL

May

  • 17 | Fiserv Forum — Milwaukee, WI

Alan Jackson has been described as a “neotraditional” country musician who “single-handedly kept traditional country music alive.” But while he’s thankful to have had an impact on the genre, he’s glad to have reached a point in his career where he can focus only on making the 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 explained. “I’ve always believed that music is the most important thing. The songs. And I guess that’s what I’d like to [leave] if I had a legacy.”