On This Day: Glen Campbell Reveals Alzheimer’s Diagnosis in 2011

by Matthew Wilson
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Glen Campbell was one of the greatest voices of his generation. But on this day in 2011, the country legend revealed he had Alzheimer’s disease.

Campbell had battled the disease for some time in private. He didn’t want his fans to know the personal demons he fought on daily basis. But by 2011, Campbell started to feel the effects of the disease. Fans began to wonder if the aging country singer was okay. So, Campbell ever the professional revealed he had been battling Alzheimer’s for some time.

“Glen is still an awesome guitar player and singer,” his wife, Kim Campbell, told People at the time. “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?'”

Campbell wasn’t quite ready to say goodbye to music. But he realized that he couldn’t play live concerts like he used to. The legend decided to go out on his own terms instead. Campbell launched a farewell tour for his fans, playing his final show in November 2012. Fans were heartbroken to see Campbell go.

“He functions the best on stage,” Kim Campbell explained in 2012. “I think it’s where he feels the most comfortable because everything is the same for him on the stage. He knows where he is, where the band is, where the audience is and what he’s supposed to do.”

Glen Campbell Battles Alzheimer’s

Glen Campbell became an advocate to find a cure for Alzheimer’s. But by 2014, the disease had claimed a lot of Campbell’s cognitive functions. For his own safety, his family moved him to a care facility so staff could watch him full-time. At the time, his wife said he would become erratic and wander the house with knives at all times of the night.

“[It can be dangerous] with all the household appliances and dish soap liquid and olive oil,” said his daughter Ashley. “He’ll drink anything … if you lose concentration for a second, he could hurt himself.”

A year later, Campbell returned home for a short time. But he ended up becoming violent at times. For instance, he ended up punching his wife in an erratic state. Despite the advance stage of the disease, Campbell continued to find solace in his music. In 2017, he released his final album “Adios” just a few months prior to his death.

“A new Glen Campbell album coming out in 2017 might seem a bit odd since he hasn’t performed since 2012, and even more odd – if not absolutely amazing – when you consider that he has Alzheimer’s disease. Glen’s abilities to play, sing and remember songs began to rapidly decline after his diagnosis in 2011. A feeling of urgency grew to get him into the studio once again to capture what magic was left. It was now or never,” his wife said.

Campbell passed away on August 8, 2017.

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