Glen Campbell’s battle with Alzheimer’s disease

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GlenCampbell1It’s no secret that I love music, in nearly every format and genre. My personal favorite songs change like the wind, depending on my mood, what I’m doing, and who I’m with.
A musician who has touched my life since childhood is Glen Campbell.
Born April 22, 1936 in Billstown, Arkansas, his talents go far beyond that of a country music singer. Glen is also an incredible guitarist, songwriter, television host, and actor.


Gentle On My Mind

Glen Campbell was the seventh son of 12 children. He moved to Los Angeles in 1960 to become a session musician, becoming part of a group of studio musicians known as The Wrecking Crew, playing on recordings by Bobby Darin, Ricky Nelson, Dean Martin, Nat King Cole, The Monkees, Nancy Sinatra, Merle Haggard, Jan & Dean, Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra and Phil Spector.


By The Time I Get To Phoenix

For a brief time in late 1964/early 1965, Campbell was a touring member of the Beach Boys, filling in for Brian Wilson. He also played guitar on their Pet Sounds album.

GlenCampbell3Dreams of the Everyday Housewife

I remember watching the television show Petticoat Junction in 1969 when Steve (Mike Minor) sang to his wife, Bobbie Jo (Lori Saunders). The song was “Dreams of the Everyday Housewife”. (Trivia:  Glen Campbell was pictured on the song sheet that Bobbie Jo left on the piano for Steve.) I really liked the song, but that’s the first time I ever heard it, not realizing it was a hit for Campbell in the summer of 1968.

GlenCampbell5Wichita Lineman

Glen hosted a summer replacement TV show for The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour in 1968, then was given his own weekly variety show, “The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour” from January 1969 through June 1972.



I remember watching the show and looking back now, I realize what a bright spot it was during some of the most turbulent years of the Vietnam conflict. Glen’s show was a pleasant escape from the war brought into our homes every night during the evening news with Walter Cronkite.

GlenCampbell6True Grit

1969 was a pivotal year in my young life, but music and an occasional movie were my preferred methods of escape. This was the year that Glen Campbell appeared in the movie “True Grit”. I wanted to be tough like John Wayne, handsome like Glen Campbell, and both protector and romantic interest to Kim Darby. Yes, she was young…but I was younger!

Country Boy (You Got Your Feet in L.A.)
In the mid-1970s, just as I was graduating from high school, Campbell was back on the charts with some of my favorite songs including Rhinestone Cowboy and Country Boy (You Got Your Feet in L.A.).

Rhinestone Cowboy

In June 2011, Glen Campbell announced he had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease six months earlier. He then embarked on a final “Goodbye Tour”. One of his stops was not too far from York, playing at Shippensburg University on October 27, 2012.


Campbell was followed on his final tour by a camera crew and director James Keach for the biography/documentary “Glen Campbell…I’ll Be Me”. The inspiration for this blog came as a result of watching the documentary on CNN last week.

GlenCampbell9I’m Not Gonna Miss You

In January 2013, Campbell recorded his final song, “I’m Not Gonna Miss You”, which was featured in the documentary about his life with Alzheimer’s disease.
According to the Alzheimer’s website, “In 1983, President Ronald Reagan designated November as National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month, and President Bill Clinton named the week of Thanksgiving as a time to honor caregivers in 1997, which has expanded to National Family Caregivers Month.”

During this holiday season, we all have so much to be thankful for. So many of our friends, relatives and loved ones are dealing with Alzheimer’s, the same terrible disease that has impacted the life of Glen Campbell and his family. Others are fully cognizant from a mental perspective, but are dealing with physical health issues.

Please take some time over the holidays to visit with someone you love and care about. Whether they are in their own home or a nursing home, your visit could very well make the difference between a good day for them, feeling loved and cared about, or a day where they feel alone and abandoned. Are you really too busy to stop by for a hug? Take your children along, and if allowed by the facility, take your dog too! Pets give love unconditionally, and I believe that a big sloppy kiss from a dog is better for a person’s emotional health than anything prescribed by a doctor.


AlzheimersHere’s a link to the National Headquarters for the Alzheimer’s Association:

Here’s a link to the Pennsylvania Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association:

If you would like to learn more about the life of  Glen Campbell, here’s a link to:  Behind The Music Glen Campbell (orig. air date:  9/19/99)

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