John Driskell Hopkins, aka “Hop” of Zac Brown Band, has revealed that he has been diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), or Lou Gehrig’s disease.
In a video posted on Friday night via the band’s YouTube, the 51-year-old musician made the announcement while surrounded by his bandmates. “Over the past several years, I’ve noticed some balance issues and some stiffness in my hands,” he stated. “After careful analysis by some of the country’s top neurologists, I have 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.”
Hopkins continued by saying he doesn’t intend to step away from music anytime soon: “God willing, I plan to be rocking with these amazing people for many years to come.”
Bandleader Zac Brown added, “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 supporting helping us cure ALS.”
The video closes with “Good Morning, Believers!” from Hopkins’ 2021 solo album Lonesome High along with a banner for his new foundation Hop on a Cure, a non-profit “committed to supporting research to prevent, reverse, and cure ALS while raising awareness, building a compassionate community, and unleashing the healing power of hope.” A limited edition t-shirt with the singer’s signature side-profile and the organization’s name has been released on the band’s website with proceeds directing back to Hop on a Cure.
Hopkins joined the nascent country-rock group in the early aughts and pushed the band forward by offering his own recording studio Brighter Shade Studios to produce their major label debut, 2008’s The Foundation, and 2010’s You Get What You Give. As part of ZBB, he has fulfilled a number of roles along with his regular contributions as bassist, guitarist, and vocalist all the way through the band’s most recent entries, 2021’s The Comeback and 2019’s The Owl. His co-writes include some of the band’s biggest singles like “Toes,” “Goodbye in Her Eyes” from 2012’s Uncaged, and the Chris Cornell-featuring “Heavy is the Head,” from 2015’s Jekyll + Hyde. He has also led his own ensemble, Brighter Shade, since 1996.
Zac Brown Band are currently in the middle of their 2022 North American tour, entitled the “Out in the Middle Tour,” which is scheduled to run from now through November. Seats are still available via Ticketmaster.