Known as a singer’s singer with a poet’s eye for detail, Hal Ketchum has been forced to retire from touring after being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. The singer, noted for hits like “Mama Knows The Highway,” “Sure Love,” "Stay Forever" and "Small Town Saturday Night," had continued to perform for as long as possible after being diagnosed some time ago. However, as the disease often does, it attacked Hal to the point where touring and performance are not an option for the Grand Ole Opry member. His wife, Andrea, detailed everything in a facebook post below.
Ketchum previously was diagnosed with acute transverse myelitis, a neurological disorder related to multiple sclerosis, which causes an enlargement of the base of the spinal cord. After a long recovery via physical therapy, Hal Ketchum was able to once again walk, play guitar and perform live. The Greenwich, NY native released his most recent album, I’m The Troubadour, in 2014.
In the 1990s, Ketchum scored a Gold record (1991’s Past The Point of Rescue) and released five albums and a Greatest Hits compilation via Curb Records. In total Ketchum released eleven records, all but two of them through Nashville’s Curb Records. He scored 13 Top 40 hits through the years with six of those becoming Top 10 hits. When news of Ketchum's ailments broke, comments from friends and colleagues poured in.
Guitarist Chris Leuzinger:
"Recording with Hal has been one of the true highlights of my career. I always absolutely loved playing music with him and his records were some of the finest I had the good fortune to play on. When Hal sang you never had to think about what to play. He just brought it out of you. And I always loved his big heart too. I really enjoyed the conversations we had a couple years ago and it was very nice of him to get in touch to talk about old times. Sending love, peace, and prayers to Hal and all your family and please let him know he will be in my thoughts.
"Small Town Saturday Night" Songwriter Pat Alger:
"Hal is a big part of my life. His talent is enormous exceeded only by the size of his heart. His passion for his art and the deep love for his family are his legacy. His interpretation of the songs was always committed and I will always be honored that the first time he co-wrote a song it was with me. You all are always in my thoughts. God bless."
"Thank you for so many years of great music. Prayers for you all as you journey into this new chapter of life. #smalltownsaturdaynight"
"I’m so sorry to hear this. Hal has been a friend of mine since the early 90’s. Please let him know we love him and sending him up some prayers."