Rhinestone Cowboy singer Glen Campbell says he is in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease and has recorded one last album as a farewell to his fans.
Campbell, 75, had been suffering from short-term memory loss for years, but the terminal Alzheimer’s diagnosis only came six months ago, according to an interview published in People magazine on Wednesday.
“I still love making music,” he was quoted as saying. “And I still love performing for my fans. I’d like to thank them for sticking with me through thick and thin.”
Campbell’s wife, Kim, said they decided to go public with his diagnosis ahead of a final concert tour this fall.
“Glen is still an awesome guitar player and singer,” she said. “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, who has been sober for years, returns to stores on Aug. 30 with Ghost on the Canvas, an album featuring original songs composed by the likes of Paul Westerberg of the Replacements and Jakob Dylan of the Wallflowers. Backing musicians include Chris Isaak, surf-guitarist Dick Dale and Smashing Pumpkins frontman Billy Corgan.
It marks a follow-up to 2008’s wryly titled Meet Glen Campbell, in which he covered tunes by U2, Green Day, John Lennon and the Foo Fighters.
Campbell, who started out as a session guitarist for the Beach Boys and producer Phil Spector, rose to fame in the 1960s with such hits as Wichita Lineman and By the Time I Get to Phoenix. Perhaps his best-known song, Rhinestone Cowboy, was a No. 1 hit in 1975.