Glenn Campbell was moved to an Alzheimer’s care facility last week, a family friend has told People magazine. The country singer first announced that he had the disease in a 2011 interview with People. He hoped to do one last live tour, and he and his wife Kim wanted the audience to be aware of his condition in case he bungled a song or forgot lyrics.
Campbell, 78, is known for such country hits as Galveston, Try a Little Kindness, Gentle On My Mind, and By The Time I Get to Phoenix. His music was featured in several films in the 1970s and 1980s, including Any Which Way You Can with Clint Eastwood. He was featured in several films, with his first and most memorable acting role in the 1969 hit True Grit with John Wayne, which earned him a Golden Globe nomination.
The documentary Glen Campbell … I’ll Be Me debuts today at the 2014 Nashville Film Festival. The documentary follows the country pop icon and his family as he progresses through the stages of Alzheimer’s, and they perform together on the road during the Goodbye Tour in 2012. During the tour he played more than 120 dates.
Manager Stan Schneider said that the final west coast shows were some of Campbell’s strongest, even though he had been unable to travel for shows in New Zealand and Australia. Los Angeles Times pop music critic Randall Roberts said that at the final concert at the L.A. Hollywood bowl he performed with “effortless grace,” and that if he had not announced the year before that he had Alzheimer’s few in the crowd would have noticed any change. Roberts added that the country singer was more precise and sharp during this concert than he was the year before when kicking off the Goodbye Tour.
Campbell’s last studio album was Ghost on the Canvas, recorded in 2011. Another album, See You There, was released in July 2013 and is remakes of some of most his most popular songs. See You There was recorded during the 2011 studio album sessions.
See You There includes remakes of such hits as By the Time I Get to Phoenix, Rhinestone Cowboy, Wichita Lineman, and Hey Little One. Dave Kaplan, Surfdog Records owner, says the album is meant to feel like sitting next to Campbell in the living room. He says the songs are haunting and stunning, and that he has never heard them with this new intimacy. Kaplan says the singer’s voice has changed enough over the years that the songs have a new feel.
Many of Campbell’s memories of life as a revolutionary studio musician, pop star, actor, and host of a TV variety show are lost now as his Alzheimer’s progresses. Wife Kim said he had one period where he was restless and agitated, paranoid and suspicious, and thought things were being stolen, but he is very content again since his doctors changed his medications. He still plays golf and remains active and healthy.
Kim says Campbell still occasionally records tracks in the studio. She says he still wants to record but it gets more difficult for him every day. Kim says they are trying to socialize and live their lives as much as possible for as long as possible. Musicians are invited over to the house occasionally and he joins in on jam sessions. He still plays guitar as if Alzheimer’s has not yet affected his muscle memory.
The country singing icon spent his 77th birthday in Washington as an Alzheimer’s research advocate, where he visited the Senate and had a fundraising dinner with the Alzheimer’s Association. People reports that Campbell’s move to the Alzheimer care facility could be temporary, and that the family should know more about a permanent plan next week.
By Beth A. Balen