Legendary Performer Glen Campbell Opens Up About Alzheimer’s

MALIBU (CBS) — One in eight people over the age of 65 suffers from Alzheimer’s Disease.

Just a few months ago, Glen Campbell told the world he was one of them.

Now, one of the world’s greatest guitarists and performers is trying to hold on to his memories. And he has memories that are the stuff of dreams.

glen campbell guitarist Legendary Performer Glen Campbell Opens Up About Alzheimers

(credit: CBS)

The 75-year-old performer earned his early fame with country/pop hits such as “Rhinestone Cowboy” and “Gentle On My Mind” and hosting the variety show “The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour” on CBS. During the ‘60s and ‘70s, he dominated the pop charts as well as the tabloid covers, easily transitioning between musician, actor and TV personality.

Campbell and his wife sat down with CBS2 to share what they’re going through.

At their Malibu home Campbell walked us through hallways lined with framed memories.

glen campbell Legendary Performer Glen Campbell Opens Up About Alzheimers

(credit: CBS)

“Is that who I think it is? That’s me with Elvis,” Campbell said. “He had more charisma in his little finger than anybody…you could feel him when he was coming.”

The Country Hall Of Fame musician was also an actor. He played John Wayne’s sidekick in the original “True Grit”.

“John Wayne was just like he was in the movies,” Campbell said. “I pushed John Wayne…he wouldn’t have won his only Oscar if I hadn’t given him a big push.”

And those older memories seem to come up easier than recent ones.

His wife Kim has been by his side 30 years.

glen campbell 138701130 Legendary Performer Glen Campbell Opens Up About Alzheimers

Musician Glen Campbell (R) and Kim Woolen arrive at the 2012 MusiCares Person of the Year Tribute to Paul McCartney held at the Los Angeles Convention Center on February 10, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. (credit: Larry Busacca/Getty Images For The Recording Academy)

“I’m a little hard of hearing on this side,” Campbell told us.

“Finally, he admits it!” Kim laughed.

When asked what changes she’s noticed Kim said that Campbell gets forgetful and disoriented, even in their home. Still, he is functioning well.

She’s thankful that certain medications have helped him improve and that his music is like therapy.

“It hasn’t affected his music. He really sings great,” Kim said.

The eight-time Grammy winner is still touring with his grown children but spends much of his time at his home in Malibu with Kim.

If you or someone you know is caring for a loved one with Alzheimers you can find tips and help from the Alzheimer’s Association here.

If you’d like to leave messages of support for Glen Campbell or if you have an Alzheimer’s-related story you’d like to share please leave a comment below.

  • Elizabeth Ray

    Glen, so good to see you on TV tonight. It’s wonderful to learn that you will be receiving that Lifetime Achievemment Award. You deserve it! I’ve been a fan since before the Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour. (So glad that it was on one of the two channels we got on TV back in those days!) “Gentle on My Mind” was the first record album I ever bought.

    Take care, and know that your fans are still out there, rooting for you!

  • David Kaplan

    Hi Glen,
    You are the greatest singer in the world. I am your devoted fan. I want you and your wife Kim know that I have 56 albums. I hope you will beat this disease.

  • Jerry

    Greetings Glen and fellow readers. I was my Mother’s primary care provider for many years. She started to show symptoms of dementia , confusion and forgetfulness. Her personal physician stated what I now refer to as the default diagnosis, Alzheimer’s Disease as what’s happening. Well I have seen numerous people with Alzheimer’s Disease and although I am not a medical professional, I knew in my gut and heart that she did NOT have Alzheimer’s disease. I became ambitious and creative during a Google search and it paid off as I was able to match her symptoms to a different condition, a TREATABLE condition with incredible results. The disease in short is referred to as NPH which stands for Normal Pressure Hydrocephalus (NPH). If you Google it you too will see what I discovered. Naturally I took my Mother to a Neurologist here in Los Angeles, CA who confirm my 100% accuracy. Had my Mother’s personal physician been a bit more open minded and compassionate, you’d think he would have had her seen by a Neurologist during her onset to a dementia condition, regretfully he was not of that nature. NPH can be relieved and/or reversed. If you are faced with a dementia type condition, you owe it to yourself or the person who is showing these symptoms to get a solid diagnosis, like I did. It was all too simple to do and had she been diagnosed much sooner, before she became weak and frail, her quality of life would have had a complete turn around. I really miss my Mother, she became my little girl. She passed away at the age of 92 in 2008 because “someone” dedicated his life to her.


    Jerry, in Los Angeles, CA

  • gary

    Glen..your early hits were a big part of the sountrack of my life. But as a child of the 60’s, I was a “closet” Glen Campbell fan! All the rest of my friends were into the rock and roll pscyhedelic stuff. Anyway, thank you for your years of great songs and entertainment. You are the best!

  • marylogue

    Mr. and Mrs. Campbell… I truly wish you a wonderful next 30 years of great memories with your family. I am touched by your dedication to each other. All of us have good and bad times, so you will face your times with grace and hope. As a huge fan, thank you for your many years of entertaining all of us, dear Glen. You are an ICON!

  • Karen Van Der Sluis

    Wen I was in my teens, I would listen to your music. It was sweet, gentle, and heart-string. When I heard that you had become a Christian, I rejoiced. When I heard you were ill, I grieved and prayed. I love you and Kim and will continue to pray for you. God bless you both.

  • Don Dean Maakestad

    I had the pleasure of meeting Glen at LAX a few months ago while he was waiting for his luggage. This was after he had been diagnosed with Alzheimers .He was very gracious and signed an autograph for me and even agreed to pose for a picture. I was unable to get the picture with me in it, so he stopped someone passsing by and ask if they would take the picture. He was down to earth and a pleasure to meet. I wish him and his family the best and they are in my prayers.

    • Sandie G

      What you have described is what makes Glen Campbell the most ‘real’ person in entertainment today. And even more, his courage, demonstrated in his life, will make a difference in countless lives throughout the world. No one before, has ever done what he is doing right now. Say a prayer for him and another giving thanks for him. He is a blessing, and he will bring light and hope, where there was once darkness. God bless you Glen!!

  • glen fan

    Glen, I wish you and your wife the best with your situation. I have a family member with alzheimers also. I have been a fan of yours since I was a young kid. Wichita Lineman is my favorite song, I never get tired of it. Best of luck to you, you still have a ton of fans!!!!

  • Brad Couch

    Hi Glen: I sincerely wish you the best. I remember you gave me my first guitar back in the seventies. The years have gone by, but you look great and can play that guitar as good as ever. I’ll always treasure and remember the great times, and especially the round of golf we played when you were playing the Orleans in Las Vegas back in 1998. By the way, I still have the guitars you gave me. Take care and God bless.

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  • Leslie Giraudon

    I have very fond memories of your songs as I was growing up, and the film “Midnight Cowboy” is for me so strongly associated with your music.
    You were as terrific as ever at the Grammys!
    My father had Alzheimer’s for probably 10 years or more… he never forgot his family, he loved and was loved, and his passion as an artist remained til his last days. I wish you many more creative ones, singing and giving happiness to others as you have always done. We can’t control the future, we can only make the most of the moment we live in. God bless you and your family.

  • Spence

    Glen, you truly were the Rhinestone cowboy, and certainly the lights
    shined on you. I recall you from the Smothers Brothers show.
    Thanks for the memories and the songs.

  • jerry hoyt

    Hey Glen…. I lived in Hot Springs long time back, when a kid from south Arkansas came up and wanted to sing at my friend Jack Digby’s club on Lake Hamilton. He listened to one song and sent you packing.

    He should have listened to a second.

    Jerry Hoyt.

  • Greg L

    Mr. Campbell
    I am a retired police officer who remembers Mr. Campbell arrest for DUI. While many famous people are arrested for DUI or drug possession and blame everyone else but themselves, Mr. Campbell didn’t do that. He admitted to being wrong for his behavior and apologized for his actions. He went on to entertain some of the prisoners and speak in depth with the Sheriff.
    While I know he had some issues with alcohol I must admit he has impressed me with his actions in Maricopa County.

    God bless you Mr. Campbell.
    Greg L.

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