Central Texas singer-songwriter Hal Ketchum, whose 1991 major-label debut went gold and produced four top-20 country singles, has Alzheimer's disease and no longer plans to perform onstage, his wife announced Sunday on Ketchum's Facebook page.
The announcement read in full:
"Dear friends and fans of Hal, this is Andrea, Hal's wife. I know everyone is wondering why there are no future tour dates, and speculations as to the reason. Our family would like to share the cause for this. Unfortunately, Hal is suffering from Alzheimer's/ Dementia. He has been battling this for some time now, but because of his love for his fans, he continued performing as long as it was possible. Dementia is an exhausting and confusing illness and now it's time for Hal to stay home with loved ones. Hal is otherwise healthy and happy, enjoying time with his family and friends. We all deeply appreciate how much love that you all have for Hal and how much his music means to you! Also, a heartfelt thank you to all the incredible musicians that have joined him on this journey, with more than special love to Kenny Grimes, without whom this last year of shows would not have been possible. Please know that I do read all of your comments to Hal and that we will continue to check in from time to time. Lots of love and appreciation to you all from Hal and the entire Ketchum family."
Ketchum, 66, moved to the Austin area in the early 1980s and soon became a regular performer at Gruene Hall in New Braunfels. His debut album "Threadbare Alibis" came out in 1988 on Watermelon Records, an independent Americana label that had ties to Austin store Waterloo Records.
Nashville major label Curb subsequently signed Ketchum and in 1991 released "Past the Point of Rescue," the title track of which reached No. 2 on the country singles charts. Curb released eight more Ketchum albums over the next two decades, and Nashville's prestigious Grand Ole Opry inducted Ketchum as a member.
His most recent release, "I'm the Troubadour," came out in 2014 on Austin-based Music Road Records. In recent years, Ketchum had performed occasionally at One World Theatre and Stateside at the Paramount in Austin.
Ketchum had been diagnosed with acute transverse myelitis, a neurological disorder, in June 1998. Late that year, he became the original drummer for the Resentments, an all-star local ensemble organized by Stephen Bruton that stated playing on Sundays at the Saxon Pub. The ever-evolving cast of Resentments musicians still plays Sundays at the Saxon.