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Glen Campbell's blues
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By Andrea Peyser
May 1, 2015

Glen Campbell's blues

With his “aw shucks, ma’am” charm and velvety voice, Glen Campbell was a legendary country and pop-music singer, guitarist and Hollywood hot guy. But now, friends and relatives tell me, he languishes in a “mediocre” facility outside Nashville, Tenn., for patients afflicted with Alzheimer’s disease.

He can spend only minimal time with his oldest children, say sources, who claim he is frequently alone except for the company of caregivers and TV crews recording his mental decline.

He wants to go home, they say, and doesn’t understand that the facility is his residence, probably for the rest of his life.

“Everything that is done in this facility could be done at home around loved ones,” a relative tells me. “It just breaks my heart.”

“Your time on this earth is very limited,” adds Travis Campbell, 49, Glen Campbell’s son from his second marriage. “He has provided for the whole family. We want to provide for him.’’

I’ve spoken to a half-dozen family members and close friends of Glen Campbell. They say his fourth wife of more than 32 years, Kimberly Woolen Campbell, who lives in a big house near her husband’s facility, greatly restricts the amount of time her man may spend with family and pals.

I reached Patricia Sullivan Webb, former wife of Campbell’s longtime songwriter, Jimmy Webb. She says: “I love the Campbell family and am deeply saddened. Glen’s older kids have been banned and then given ridiculously short and infrequent visits with their father.

“Glen loves all eight of his kids, not just the three children he has with Kim.’’

The Campbell family feud reached a climax in January, when Travis Campbell and Glen Campbell’s daughter from his first marriage, Debby Campbell-Cloyd — who at age 58 is two years older than her 56-year-old stepmom — filed a petition seeking to wrest control from Kim Campbell of their dad’s medical and financial decisions.

In the petition, the half-siblings accused Kim Campbell of visiting their father rarely and keeping him “secluded from the family,” whose older members were “prohibited from participating in his care and/or treatment,’’ The Associated Press reported. They said Kim Campbell did not provide him with basic toiletries and clothing.

“He didn’t even have a toothbrush!” a close friend says.

A judge ordered the case go into mediation. Then, on April 21, a day before Glen Campbell’s 79th birthday, sources say, his two children reached a tentative agreement with their stepmother. They’d be allowed to see their dad just twice a month, after giving at least seven days’ notice to his wife before visiting. They spent two hours with him on his birthday.

Sources say they’ll be barred from bringing cellphones and cameras into Glen Campbell’s facility. They also won’t be able to bring him fan mail or food, such as the salmon he craves from a sushi restaurant across the street — though the food prohibition might be lifted if his doctor signs off on it. He now has reading glasses and a toothbrush, but not hearing aids.

Glen Campbell’s older children believe they have no choice but to drop their lawsuit and settle so they can see their dad. It might take up to a year for the case to be resolved at trial, and they fear their dad, who remains physically robust but suffers from dementia, might not live that long.

Kim Campbell did not return my call. Her and Glen’s daughter, Ashley Campbell, 28, hung up the phone on me.

Responding to his eldest daughter’s criticism about putting Glen Campbell into a home in April 2014, Kim Campbell told the AP: “It is crushingly sad to see him afflicted with Alzheimer’s, but indulging those feelings does not help him. I am his wife, and no one wants him home more than me, but I must do what is in his best interest.” She told TV’s “Inside Edition” in September that she sees her husband every day.

Glen Campbell was born in Arkansas, became a session musician in Los Angeles and played with the Beach Boys in the 1960s. Boyishly handsome and 6 feet tall, he recorded hits including “Gentle on My Mind,” “By the Time I Get to Phoenix” and “Rhinestone Cowboy,” won multiple Grammys and acted in the 1969 movie “True Grit,” opposite John Wayne. He hosted “The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour” on CBS from 1969 to 1972. In 2005, he was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.

He’s spoken openly about his past struggles with alcohol and cocaine abuse.

His eldest daughter, a flight attendant and singer, toured with him for 24 years.

She’s said Kim Campbell fired her from his band after announcing publicly that her husband suffered from Alzheimer’s in 2011, replacing her and other band members with her own kids. Kim Campbell also arranged for a documentary to be made of his 2011-’12 farewell concert tour, “Glen Campbell . . . I’ll Be Me,’’ that’s set for a June TV premiere on CNN.

I hope Glen Campbell’s final years are spent surrounded by people who love him.

He deserves it.

©2007-2024 Andrea Peyser and; No Reuse without permission.
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