PHOTO: (Marla Jones | Southern Torch)
By Marla Jones & Zach Hester, Reporters
FORT PAYNE, Ala. — Last week, Hollywood descended upon DeKalb County as widely known actor William Shatner arrived in Fort Payne ready to record with Alabama’s Jeff Cook.
Both Cook and Shatner are signed with Heartland Records of Nashville and have been friends for several years. The pair first met at an awards show in 1980.
Most will know Shatner as the lead of the original Star Trek television series that began in 1966. He portrayed James T. Kirk, the captain of the USS Enterprise. The short stint of the series made Shatner a cultural icon among fans across the world. Shatner also won a pair of Emmys for his supporting role in Boston Legal.
“We’re here at Jeff Cook’s studio, putting together a country music album,” he said. When asked about why he wanted to go in country music, Shatner simply replied that he was just following Cook’s lead.
“It’s original music, not necessarily by us,” said Cook. “It should be completed in a few more days with the help of an engineer.”
Cook was very young when he started playing music. He began playing lead guitar with a band at age 13 and still works on writing songs every day. It just comes naturally.
“His mother crooning him to sleep was probably his biggest musical influence,” said Shatner with a chuckle. “Jeff does it all and we’re combining our forces.”
Cook is best known as one of the founding members of Alabama, the Grammy award winning band from Fort Payne with a discography that spans an entire generation. With more than twenty studio albums and 33 number one country singles, Alabama has proven to be one of the most successful acts of all time.
Shatner said the album has been in the works for a long time and went on to say that Cook had been preparing it for almost fifty years.
“When I was doing Star Trek, I thought I would love to do country music,” continued Shatner. “Fifty years later, here we are.”
“This is the first time that I’ve sat down with really top professional country music people and been part of the process of making an album. For me, it’s not only been eye-opening but vocally-opening. [It’s a] whole new experience for me.”
The contents of this album are set to be both humorous and serious stuff with “good time stuff” thrown in for good measure, according to Cook. The album is set to be released this summer, but neither said they would have the time to tour the record.
“Just keep your eyes and ears open. One day we’ll get this thing on the market,” said Cook. “Very soon.”