Glen Campbell was country way before country was cool, and news he shared today that he has been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease has rocked the country world. The 75-year-old singer of tunes like "Rhinestone Cowboy" and "Galveston" and his wife, Kim, revealed the sad news to People today.
Before bringing his incredible career to a close, he plans to release one final album and do a farewell tour. The reason they chose to come forward now, before those events, is heartbreaking.
Kim told the magazine:
Glen is still an awesome guitar player and singer. But if he flubs a lyric or gets confused on stage, I wouldn’t want people to think, "What's the matter with him? Is he drunk?"
He has had issues with alcohol and public drunkenness in the past, and when it comes to entertainers, substance abuse is typically the first thing we think of when it comes to erratic behavior, so her concerns are sadly valid. They also highlight just how difficult the disease can be for anyone suffering from it and for those who love them.
As Jennifer LaRue Huget points out in the Washington Post: " ... the fear that a person with Alzheimer's may be mistaken for the town drunk is one that’s all too familiar to people who have watched loved ones suffer from this awful disease."
He's already had problems while performing as of late as reports after a recent concert in Indiana said he "came across as unprepared at best and disoriented at worst. He mangled lyrics (despite unabashed use of video prompts on three onstage monitors), clanged countless off-key guitar notes, and generated zero rapport with the crowd."
I hope Campbell is able to manage one last strong tour, to go out on the proverbial high note, and let his fans pay tribute to the wonderful music he's provided for years. Based on this announcement, he's sure to have a more-than-understanding and embracing crowd. Because no matter what, Campbell has always belonged where the lights are shining on him.
Are you a fan of Glen Campbell? What's your favorite song he sings?