Glen Campbell has Alzheimer's, plans for final album and farewell tour
Glen Campbell has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, the 75-year-old country singer, songwriter and guitarist and his wife, Kim, have told People magazine, a condition that has prompted him to describe a new album coming in August as his final recording.
"Glen is still an awesome guitar player and singer," Kim said in the interview. "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?' "
Campbell is planning a series of concerts this fall in support of the album, “Ghost on the Canvas,” due Aug. 30. He is working again with producer Julian Raymond, who helped rejuvenate Campbell’s career in 2008 on “Meet Glen Campbell,” a collection of surprising song choices including Green Day’s “Good Riddance (Time of Your Life),” the Velvet Underground’s “Jesus,” Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers’ “Walls” and the Replacements' “Sadly Beautiful.”
Shortly after that album was released, Campbell told The Times: "I'd like to see it go up the charts, go platinum and win the Grammy," he said. "Then I'd retire."
Instead, he returned to the studio with Raymond, who again applies Campbell’s signature homespun vocals and guitar work to songs by the Replacements’ Paul Westerberg, Jakob Dylan, Teddy Thompson and Robert Pollard as well as to some original material that Campbell and Raymond wrote together.
Dylan, in fact, cited Campbell as the catalyst for his latest album, “Women + Country,” produced by T Bone Burnett, because when Burnett asked him to hear some of his new songs, the only thing he had to offer was “Nothing But the Whole Wide World,” which he had written, at Raymond’s request, with Campbell in mind. “That’s how it began, so thank you, Glen Campbell,” Dylan told The Times last year.
The list of musical guests on "Ghosts on the Canvas" includes Chris Isaak, Dick Dale, Billy Corgan, Brian Setzer, Cheap Trick’s Rick Nielsen and the Dandy Warhols.
The singer plans to undertake what he’s calling the Glen Campbell Goodbye Tour upon the album’s release. The itinerary is still to be announced.
Campbell’s career stretches over five decades from his early years as a session guitarist in Los Angeles when he played on recordings by Phil Spector, the Beach Boys, Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley and many others, to his success as a solo artist with such hits as “Gentle on My Mind," “By the Time I Get to Phoenix,” “Galveston” and “Rhinestone Cowboy,” to his years hosting the CBS-TV show “The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour” and a side career as an actor in the original film version of “True Grit,” in which he appeared alongside star John Wayne. His personal life took a downturn in 2004, when he spent 10 days in jail in Arizona for extreme drunken driving.
“I still love making music,” Campbell told People. “And I still love performing for my fans. I’d like to thank them for sticking with me through thick and thin.”
-- Randy Lewis
Photo of Glen Campbell in 2004. Credit: Sherrie Busby / For The Times.