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Unforgettable Lyrics: Grammy Award-Winning Country Star Battles Alzheimer’s

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Mary Bubala joined WJZ in December 2003. She now anchors the 4-4:30...
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BALTIMORE (WJZ)– Sunday’s 54th Annual Grammy Awards will feature a special performance by Lifetime Achievement Award winner Glen Campbell. But what you’ll only see now is how Campbell and his wife are handling a very difficult disease with openness and humor.

Mary Bubala shares what happens out of the spotlight.

One year ago, legendary country superstar Glen Campbell announced he’s battling Alzheimer’s disease. Incredibly, at the same time, he put out a new album and launched a farewell tour.

“They said, you have Alzheimer’s, and I said, ‘Well you know, do what you can do,'” Campbell said.

Campbell and his wife of 30 years, Kim, decided to be very open about his diagnosis and not hide from it. Instead, the five-time Grammy Award-winning singer has become a face for the 5 million Americans living with Alzheimer’s.

“He’s forgetful, gets disoriented, even in our own house,” Kim Campbell said.

For Glen Campbell, the symptoms started a few years ago. Some days he can’t remember how many children he has or his age.

“Ashley, my little girl. She’s the only girl, right?” he asked his wife.

“She’s your youngest,” she responded.

“How old am I now? 45? 65?” he asked.

“Keep going,” his wife said.

He continues, “95? 75? Ah, it’s just a number. 75? Wow.”

But somehow, performing his music—five decades worth— is virtually unaffected.

Despite the Alzheimer’s, Campbell can remember most of the lyrics to his songs like the chart-topping “Rhinestone Cowboy,” which he first performed almost 40 years ago.

On Sunday at the Grammys, Campbell will perform with Blake Shelton and the band Perry.

“It hasn’t affected his music really,” Kim Campbell said. “He plays great guitar and sings great, so I think that’s a protected part of the brain.”

Music is clearly therapeutic, but Campbell’s Alzheimer’s is being treated with medication.

Kim Campbell: “They have made a difference. I have noticed that.”
Glen Campbell: “Have they?”
Kim Campbell: “Yeah.”
Glen Campbell: “What is that, Alzheimer’s? Slowly going mad?”
Kim Campbell: “Losing your memory.”
Glen Campbell: “Losing your memory? God, I’m glad I’ve lost some of that.”

But Campbell’s fans are so thankful that the music remains.

Don’t miss Campbell’s special performance and all the excitement when LL Cool J hosts the 54th Annual Grammy Awards. That’s this Sunday at 8 p.m. only on WJZ-13.

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