Zac Brown Band's John Driskell Hopkins opens up about ALS diagnosis in 1st TV interview

Zac Brown Band's John Driskell Hopkins says ALS won't stop him from making music.

After going public with his diagnosis over the weekend, the 51-year-old musician and singer spoke to Good Morning America about his health. ALS, or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord.

"Hop," who plays banjo, ukulele and guitar as well as sings in the country band, first noticed symptoms, which have gradually progressed, three years ago. He has balance issues, stiffness in his hands and legs and, now, difficulty with his speech.

"I'm starting to slur," Hopkins said. "I feel pretty good today, but I can't jump up from the chair and run down the hallway. I would fall."

He said he was also "wearing half my costume all night because it takes me a little longer to button things. And I can't jog down the hall after everyone else."

Hopkins admitted, "I don't believe that I've ever truly had anxiety until this," he said. However, sharing his health struggles has lessened it.

"I'm just super blessed to have this many incredible people that are lifting me up and it makes it better," he said. "It makes me feel less worried and far less anxious. I've sort of shaken the anxiety."

ATLANTA, GA - DECEMBER 18: John Driskell Hopkins performs at SiriusXM+Pandora Playback With John Driskell Hopkins on December 18, 2019 in Atlanta, Georgia.(Photo by Prince Williams/Wireimage)
John Driskell Hopkins performs in 2019 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo: Prince Williams/Wireimage)

While ALS, also called Lou Gehrig's disease, has no cure, Hopkins said "there's a lot of hope in this" as well as "a lot of wonderful technology on the horizon. Amazing things [are] happening all over the country and all over the world to eradicate this and to heal motor neurons."

And no matter what happens, he vowed that music will remain central to his life.

"If I can't pick up a guitar, then maybe I can program one. I don't think music will ever not be a part of my life. Even if it's just making a mixtape," he said.

Hop made the health announcement over the weekend in a video message. He was supported by his bandmates for the video message. The band is currently on a summer tour — and he is there with the group.