Thursday, May 16, 2024

One on One With Zac Brown Band’s John Driskell Hopkins

With Zac Brown Band’s “From the Fire Tour” in full swing, I went backstage with one of the band’s founding members, John Driskell Hopkins, to discuss life at home and on the road, plus his plans to stay strong and help others amid his ALS diagnosis.

“Don’t quit.”

Of all the songs, stories and messages Zac Brown Band’s John Driskell Hopkins shares with the world through music, that’s the one that seems to be on his mind the most these days.

“Don’t quit. You cannot quit. If you want a life in music, you have to decide that that’s what you’re going to do and you can’t quit. When you get diagnosed with a life-threatening disease that they have no cure for, that’s no reason to quit,” says Hopkins.

The vocalist, bassist, guitarist and a founding member of the Zac Brown Band recently learned that he has ALS, or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord. ALS is often referred to as Lou Gehrig’s Disease.

The diagnosis was devastating for Hopkins and his family but something they decided to face head on.

Photo courtesy of the Hopkins Family

Shortly after the diagnosis and with incredible support from family, friends and fellow Zac Brown Band members and crew, the Hopkins quickly worked to create Hop on a Cure, a foundation committed to supporting research to prevent, reverse and cure ALS.

“It does put an egg timer on your head and you can’t really read it. You don’t know how much mobility time you have versus how quickly or slowly the disease could progress. We have been aware of living every moment and getting involved in all the activities together as a family that we can. We’re praying for the best and planning for the worst,” says Hopkins.

Hop on a Cure momentum and making music on and off the stage with the Zac Brown Band and his own band, The John Driskell Hopkins Band, seem to provide the best medicine for Hop.

“It makes me feel normal to be on stage and that’s a real positive part. A lot of treatment is laced in positivity. You have to have a positive outlook and you have to be surrounded by people that bring you up. I’ve got that here. I’ve got people that are letting me do my thing and I’m enjoying their company and just this life that we’ve built,” says Hopkins.

John Driskell Hopkins, photo courtesy of John Driskell Hopkins

Hopkins says his wife, Jennifer, their three daughters, bandmates and fans help lift him up through it all.

And while he can’t jump on stage like he used to or move his fingers as fast as he’d like on the guitar, Hopkins says he’s doing alright.

“As long as I’m singing it and I’m bringing it, I’ll be out here,” says Hopkins.

Click here to learn more about Hop on a Cure and support upcoming events.

Listen to Paige’s full interview with John Driskell Hopkins via the The Paige Kornblue Show podcast

Paige Kornblue
Paige Kornblue
Paige Kornblue is an award-winning journalist who founded Paige Kornblue Media and The Paige Kornblue Show highlighting everything from interesting people, fascinating places to the gems that make our communities special. In addition to The Paige Kornblue Show podcast and Boca Magazine, Paige is a TODAY Show Parenting Team Contributor. She has anchored and reported for top-rated television stations across the country including WPTV NBC NewsChannel 5 and WMUR ABC News 9. Paige has also worked at NBC Sports and Dateline NBC and provided live reports for CNN and The Weather Channel. Some of her most memorable stories include exclusive interviews with President Barack Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, Senator John McCain, Barbara Walters, Emmitt Smith, Desmond Howard, Jimmy Connors and Chris Evert. PK is a proud Boca Raton native who grew up loving Boca Magazine and all that comes with the fabulous city of Boca Raton! You can often find her on stage assisting charities as event emcee and moderator, on the courts working to improve her tennis game and on momma time enjoying each moment with her three young kiddos!

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