In June, Glen Campbell revealed in an exclusive interview with People magazine that he has Alzheimer’s disease. The “Rhinestone Cowboy” singer and his wife, Kim, decided to go public with Glen’s diagnosis because they wanted his fans to know what was wrong.
“Glen is still an awesome guitar player and singer,” Kim said. “But if he flubs a lyric or gets confused onstage, I wouldn’t want people to think, ‘What’s the matter with him? Is he drunk?’”
The couple told People he had been suffering from short-term memory loss for years before being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Glen embarked on a farewell tour in the fall of 2011 and also released his last studio album, Ghost on the Canvas, in August. “I still love making music,” Glen said. “And I still love performing for my fans. I’d like to thank them for sticking with me through thick and thin.”
Glen and Kim sat down with ABC’s Terry Moran, co-anchor of Nightline, to discuss Glen’s disease and how the family is coping. Married for nearly 30 years, Kim said Glen’s sense of humor has helped the family deal with the difficult time.
“He’ll tell a joke, laugh at it and a few minutes later tell the same joke, laugh, and then we laugh at him because he’s just enjoying it so much,” she said. “You just make the best of each day and try not to worry about tomorrow.”
“Definitely take care of what’s today and tomorrow’s going to have what it has,” Glen added. “There’s a verse in the Bible that says, ‘If the man findeth a good wife, he’s found a good thing,’ and I found a good thing, or she found me. Did you find me or did I find you?” Kim replied that the pair had found each other. “That’s what we did. Amen,” Glen said.
Music is helping Glen cope with his disease and also helps his memory. “Music is a natural memory aid, and we’re finding out it really does help his memory and help keep him from declining,” Kim said on Nightline. “So it’s really good for him and all the love he gets from all the fans is really encouraging, so that’s why we want to do it as long as we can, because it’s healthy for all of us. Music is good medicine.”
During the CMA Awards this year, Vince Gill, Keith Urban and Brad Paisley paid tribute to Glen. The three performed a medley of Glen’s hits “By the Time I Get To Phoenix,” “Wichita Lineman” and “Galveston” with Jimmy Webb, the man who penned the songs, joining in on piano. Glen sang along in the audience before joining the group onstage. “It was awesome, it really was,” Glen said backstage after the performance. “The whole thing was just wonderful.”
Glen’s last tour date is currently listed as March 24, 2012 in Silver Springs, Florida.