Glen Campbell and Alzheimer

Singer Glen Campbell is having a great time.
Make no mistake, it is tragic that Alzheimer’s disease is slowly stripping away the memories and abilities that define one of music’s greats. But day-to-day, surrounded by his family and friends, encouraged to play his guitar and sing and golf and joke, the 75-year-old Campbell is often smiling.
“I’m really not worried about anything” – Campbell said. “You know those people who say, ‘Oh, geez, I wonder what’s going to happen tomorrow?’ Tomorrow’s cool. Just don’t mess it up. It’s just wonderful. I think where I am at right now in this universe, I wouldn’t want to be anything else than what I am.”
Call it The Zen of Glen, and it has been reached through the hard work of his wife, Kim, his children and his business associates who often are as close as family. They have created a carefully engineered environment meant to shelter and encourage Campbell at every turn, whether he is at home or on the road.
The Campbell family allowed The Associated Press a glance at the ‘Country Music Hall of Fame’ member’s life during a recent visit to Biloxi, Mississippi, where Campbell played his first show last month since announcing he has Alzheimer’s, a degenerative brain disease that so far has proven incurable.
That show was a dry run in preparation for a string of dates overseas this year, and for a goodbye tour next year in support of his last studio album (“Ghost on the Canvas”) out next Tuesday.
“What’s really fun is it’s not like work now because I’ve got my kids here, and my wife here, and they’re all playing” – Campbell said.

Glen Campbell and Alzheimer

Glen Campbell.

Before Glen Campbell became a TV star with “The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour” on CBS in the late 60′s and early 70′s and before he was charting his own hits, such as “By the Time I Get to Phoenix,” “Galveston,” “Rhinestone Cowboy” and “Gentle on My Mind,” he was part of the elite Los Angeles-based studio musicians known as the Wrecking Crew.
They got the nickname from their ability to knock out hit after hit, day after day, year after year for artists of nearly all stripes – Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, the Beach Boys, the Monkees and countless others.
Campbell, the subject of a full profile coming this weekend, said the reason he found his way into that influential and lucrative gig boiled down to one thing: “Capo, capo, capo” – he said recently at his home in Malibu.
It seems the guitar he learned to play on, an acoustic model his father purchased for $7,50 from Sears & Roebuck when he was growing up on the farm in rural Arkansas with his sharecropper parents, wasn’t the highest-quality instrument in the world.
“The strings were too high off the neck” – he said, “so I always used a capo,” the device that allows guitar players to shift chords easily into different keys. Campbell liked it because it brought the strings on his guitar closer to the neck, making it more comfortable to play, but it also raised the pitch and gave his instrument a brighter sound.
“That got me into the session work” – he said. “People didn’t care what notes I played, they just wanted that high, raw sound. I thought, ‘Man, this is made for me.’ ”
From his studio work, he wound up being recruited into the Beach Boys to take over for group leader Brian Wilson when Wilson decided to retire from touring so he could focus on studio work.

Glen Campbell’s music is part of the American soundtrack. His biggest hits (like “Rhinestone Cowboy” and “Wichita Lineman”) plus countless others, have been heard by millions all over the world.
His guitar playing is so inventive, Frank Sinatra wanted him for his hit “Strangers in the Night,” and so did the Beach Boys – he was featured in their song “Fun, Fun, Fun.”
Nightline Anchor Terry Moran’s Interview will be on World News with Diane Sawyer and Nightline Tonight
“I have been blessed, I really have” – Campbell said. “I really have, I figured it out that I’m not that bright, but God gave me a break.”
Now, at 75, Campbell is struggling to remember that blessed life. He is fighting Alzheimer’s. It is a battle he and all those who share this disease cannot win.
“I wasn’t a big star” – he said.
We disagreed, telling him: “You are a big star,”
“Well, it’s still the same size” – Campbell countered with a laugh. “That’s, ah, what was I saying? I’m going to be right in the middle of a sentence, man – and it just goes, pew.”
Campbell and his wife of nearly 30 years, Kim Woollen, spoke with ABC News in their Malibu home for their first television interview since sharing the news that he had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.
“I hadn’t gotten it yet” – Campbell said. “In fact, I don’t even know where it came from.”
“Yes, you’ve been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s” – Woollen said to her husband.
“What? I haven’t felt it yet” – Campbell said, laughing. “I’ve always been forgetful anyway. I’m only what, 78?”
“75″ – corrected Woollen.
“Oh, so I’ve got a couple more.”

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