One of the ‘60s’ finest songwriters is battling Alzheimer’s disease, hanging on for a final tour.
We have heard before of “The Farewell Tour.” In fact some musicians have had more than one ‘we-are-alldone-touring’ tours. But more often than not, these tours turn out to be marketing ploys.
This past year Bob Seger announced in so many words that it is time for him to hang it up and pass the touring torch on to fellow Michiganders Kid Rock and Eminem. Speculation was that this past spring would be Seger’s last tour. But just a couple weeks ago Seger did an about-face and at the age of 66 he now feels energized by touring and plans to release a new album next spring and go on the road again.
For Glen Campbell, however, this will be his last tour. He also just released his final album. There is no turning back for Campbell, there is no changing his mind for future tours or albums. He has Alzheimer’s disease (AD), and is showing early signs of the disease in recent appearances.
Campbell will perform this Thursday (October 13) at the Dreammakers Theater at the Kewadin Casino in Sault Ste. Marie, his only scheduled Michigan date on his final tour.
A THANK YOU
This is not a “feel sorry” event for Glen Campbell. Instead Campbell wanted to say thank you to his fans for giving him a career that has spanned 50-plus years. Before becoming a country music legend, Campbell was a sought-after rock session musician and backing vocalist during the ’60s.
“Music is very therapeutic for those with Alzheimer’s,” said Kim Woollen Campbell, his wife of the past 30 years. “We learned about the Alzheimer’s nearly a year ago and we finally released it publicly this past June because I didn’t want people to think he was drunk on stage.”
Last spring a concert reviewer wrote, “Campbell seemed to not be prepared for his show, forgetting lyrics and repeating himself.” Yet despite being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, Campbell remains upbeat.
“There a lot of things from my past I didn’t want to remember anyway,” said Campbell. “My wife and kids are coming out on the tour with me (some of his kids are in his band). We are touring the U.S. and overseas.”
While upbeat, Campbell struggles with interviews and relies on his wife or family members to assist him. He also depends on support on stage, but doesn’t want people to feel sorry for him.
“I have had a great career, I have wanted to be a guitar player for as long as I can remember and I got that the chance to do that my whole career,” he said. “So I have been blessed. Now I just take every day one day at a time the way I should live anyways. I have a strong faith in God, a great wife and children, and a lot of great friends and fans. How could I ask any more out of life?”
Blessed he has been. His musical talents caught the ears of people like Elvis, Frank Sinatra, Phil Spector, The Beach Boys and others. He was a member of the band The Champs, who had the 1958 number one hit “Tequilla.”
Campbell went on to join the legendary Los Angles session band The Wrecking Crew, who appeared on several albums, including hits for the Beach Boys, The Byrds, The Mamas and Papas, and Simon and Garfunkel, among others. It was during that period that Campbell was asked to tour with The Beach Boys.
“Brian Wilson got sick and the guys knew me from the session work I did on several of their number one hits, so they asked me to tour with them in 1965,” said Campbell during a 1981 interview. “It was funny -- they had me play bass and sing the high notes. At the time I didn’t appreciate it; looking back on it today, I was fortunate for being a part of The Beach Boys.”
One thing he doesn’t feel fortunate about was opening for The Doors.
“I was just launching a solo career and they booked me to open for The Doors,” said Campbell. “I am not sure what was worse: getting up there on stage having people yell during my songs ‘we want the Doors,’ or flying to the shows with Jim Morrison. That guy was really weird. Fortunately, after a few shows I got off the tour.”
Glen Campbell never looked back after that moment. He ended up hosting a popular TV show, had 81 chart topping hits including “Galveston,” “Gentle On My Mind,” “Wichita Lineman,” and “Rhinestone Cowboy.”
His final album “Ghost on the Canvas,” released earlier this summer, features Chris Issak, Brian Setzer, Keith Urban and Billy Corban among others. The critics are hailing it as Campbell’s greatest work ever.
Glen Campbell will bring his Goodbye Tour to Kewadin Casinos this Thursday October 13. For ticket information, contact the box office at www.kewadincasinos.com or call 1-800-539-2346. Content for this article came from an e-mail response to questions submitted to Glen Campbell’s family and from a 1981 interview Rick Coates conducted with Campbell for another publication.