By: Tony Manfetano
50 Years. 70 Albums. 45 million records sold including 4 platinums, 1 double-platinum, and every crack in the dirty sidewalks of Broadway. Yeah, I’m talking about legendary country artist Glen Campbell.
Undeniably one of the most influential people in not only country music, but crossing over into pop and television launching careers such as Jerry Reed, Mel Tillis and Anne Murray. As the case for many of our musical icons, Glen’s career was forced to an end. Not apropo of drugs, alcohol, women or any of the usual vices that plague our most talented minds. No, this affliction went straight for his mind, in fact. In 2012 Campbell announced to despondent but understanding fans plans for his final tour due to Alzheimer’s. Despite the arduous disease attempting to steal the man, Glen set out on the tour which included a performance at the 2012 Grammy Awards.
Director James Keach, of Walk The Line fame, chronicles this multi-continental tour and the 3 years following Campbell’s diagnoses in the documentary Glen Campbell…I’ll Be Me.
Scheduled for an October 24 2014 release the film, culled from over 5,000 hours of footage shot by Keach and producer Trevor Albert, also features interviews from people who have worked with or been influenced by Glen Campbell. A few of these names you may even recognize such as, Paul McCartney, Blake Shelton, Jay Leno, Urban, Springsteen, Paisley, Cash, and Clinton just to scratch the rhinestone surface.
The documentary takes a look at the effects of Alzheimer’s on the performer, his fans and his family. Campbell’s wife Kim and their 3 youngest children accompanied Glen on tour providing back-up both on and off stage as part of his band and assisting in caregiving.
The film has also spawned a soundtrack. Available now, the titular EP comes to us from Big Machine Records and features Campbell’s final recording I’m Not Gonna Miss You, alongside two live performances, a cover by the Band Perry and an original track from daughter Ashley Campbell.
Artistic ventures such these further exemplify country music’s propensity for taking the pain and laments of one and using it to comfort or enlighten others.