Glen Campbell, country star in the 1960s-70s and known for his music and comedy variety show The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour on CBS, died on August 8 due to Alzheimer’s. Campbell made history by winning four Grammys in the country and pop categories in 1967. He sang such songs as “Rhinestone Cowboy,” “Galveston,” and “Wichita Lineman.” Campbell also appeared in a supporting role in the film True Grit (1969) and sang the title song for the film. Sadly, in 2011, Campbell was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Rather than retreating, Campbell bravely went on a farewell tour in 2011-12 that dealt with his illness and decline.
This tour was the subject of an award-winning 2014 documentary titled “Glen Campbell…I’ll Be Me.” The film documented his decline with Alzheimer’s, how his band supported him on stage when he forgot the chords and how his fans finished the song when he forgot the lyrics. Despite his illness, Campbell remained happy and upbeat. His family became his caregivers, and the film shows how the family helped Campbell navigate places that had once been familiar to him, such as his home, the stage, and the recording studio.
Campbell courageously advocated for Alzheimer’s awareness and helped to remove some of the stigma associated with the disease. After the film aired, Director James Keach said people came up to him “who had family members or themselves had Alzheimer’s who said, ‘I no longer feel ashamed.'” His daughter, band mate, and caregiver, Ashley Campbell, said she was glad her father’s honesty about Alzheimer’s helped so many people to “not feel so alone.”
More than 5 million Americans suffer from Alzheimer’s, and every 66 seconds someone develops Alzheimer’s. You can help advance Alzheimer’s support, care, and research by participating in the Walk to End Alzheimer’s.