Glen Campbell’s Daughter Ashley Details Dad’s Declining Health
The influence that Glen Campbell has had on artists of every genre is undeniable. But with the decision of his family to go public with the legendary entertainer’s 2011 Alzheimer’s disease diagnosis, his extraordinary legacy has become even more significant and farther-reaching.
On Sunday, June 28th at 9:00 p.m. ET, CNN will exclusively broadcast the profoundly moving documentary film, Glen Campbell: I’ll Be Me, a revealing look back at the phenomenal career of Campbell, who went from in-demand L.A. session guitarist to pop-country superstar around the world thanks to such iconic hits as “Gentle on My Mind,” “Galveston” and “Rhinestone Cowboy.” Among his fellow performers who comment on Campbell’s influence are Keith Urban, Vince Gill, Kathy Mattea, Brad Paisley, John Carter Cash, Sheryl Crow, Blake Shelton, Taylor Swift, Bruce Springsteen, Paul McCartney and U2 guitarist The Edge. Campbell’s final recording, “I’m Not Gonna Miss You,” won a Grammy for Best Country Song earlier this year. Campbell and the song’s co-writer, Julian Raymond, were also nominated for an Oscar for the emotional tune.
Glen Campbell: I’ll Be Me is a heartbreaking but celebratory document of the musician’s final album and his Goodbye Tour, which expanded from a five-week trek to 151 sold-out shows in an 18-month period, yet at its core, the film bravely details the Campbell family’s coming to grip with the Alzheimer’s diagnosis, as the performer’s children, including Ashley, Shannon and Cal, who were members of his touring band, rally together in support of their dad, just as the Country Music Hall of Fame member’s fans and friends have done, especially since his diagnosis was first revealed.
“It’s a great way to get the message out there,” Campbell’s daughter, Ashley Campbell, tells Rolling Stone Country of I’ll Be Me. “The film is definitely not what you think of when you think of a documentary about Alzheimer’s. I think the beauty of it is that my dad is such a personable person. He’s so charismatic and funny and just real, and it really shines through in this film. He puts a real human face on this disease that a lot of people are dealing with that we don’t really hear about it a lot in the media. That’s the conversation we’re hoping to start, that it’s real and it happens to people we love and that we need to personalize it.”
Included in the film is a historic stop in Washington, D.C., during which the Campbell family testified before Congress, lobbying members for more research funding for a cure and meeting with House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-California) and Dr. Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health.
Acknowledging the widespread effect Alzheimer’s has had on millions around the globe, Ashley says, “Everyone goes through a similar process and through this ongoing grief that happens as we take care of our loved ones with Alzheimer’s. When people see the film they talk to me afterwards, they’re just so relieved that it’s not just them going through these things. They’re not alone in this.”
Although she reveals that her father, who is currently at a memory care facility in Nashville, is progressing into the late stages of the disease, Ashley says her dad is physically very healthy, adding, “He’s calm most of the time, which is kind of all you can ask for in the late stages, that he’s calm, content and happy and feels a lot of love in his life. Because he has aphasia, he can’t really communicate very well. He doesn’t really understand anything that anyone tells him anymore and he can’t communicate with us very well. But he understands body language and sometimes very small words.”
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