Glen Campbell has sold more than 50 million records, including country/pop hits “Gentle on My Mind”, Wichita Lineman” and “Rhinestone Cowboy”. Prior to achieving stardom as a solo artist he was a respected session player, playing with the likes of Frank Sinatra and the Beach Boys. He has five Grammy Awards, is a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame, had his own television program (The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour), and co-starred in the original film version of True Grit.
He also struggled with substance abuse, has been married four times and has eight children. He, his wife of nearly 30 years Kim, and their three children are people of faith, which has helped them get through the news that became public in 2011 – that the then 75 year old Glen had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease just as his final album Ghost on the Canvas was being released. This film, directed by James Keach, documents Campbell’s on and off stage challenges of his farewell tour, a 151 show tour (including a stop in Bloomington, Illinois), which ended in 2012 when he was no longer able to perform. His three youngest children were a part of his backing band.
The film begins with Glen and Kim at the Mayo Clinic when they receive the official diagnosis of Alzheimer’s. You can argue whether they should have taken Glen on the road for the final tour or not (apparently some of his ex-wives and older children were against the idea), but the fact is that they did, giving his fans one last chance to see him in concert.
At times the film was very difficult to watch, as you see him deteriorating as the tour progresses. At other times, you are amazed that once onstage he can still deliver incredible guitar solos, and with the aid of a teleprompter still sing his well-loved songs to the delight of the supportive audiences.
The film includes a number of interviews with music stars such as Bruce Springsteen, and Edge from U2, who comment about Campbell. The most powerful clips are those from country stars Kathy Mattea and Brad Paisley who talk about their own loved one’s battles with Alzheimer’s.
Toward the end of the film, with the help of others, including his former session band the Wrecking Crew, Campbell is able to record his final song, the moving “I’m Not Gonna Miss You”, a song he wrote for Kim.
The film is helping to raise awareness for the need for additional funding to fight the disease, and features a clip of daughter Ashley speaking before a Congressional committee on the matter. Campbell, now 78, was moved to a specialized Alzheimer’s treatment facility in 2014.
Note: We are looking forward to seeing the documentary, ALIVE INSIDE. It is a joyous cinematic exploration of music’s capacity to reawaken our souls and uncover the deepest parts of our humanity. Filmmaker Michael Rossato-Bennett chronicles the astonishing experiences of individuals around the country who have been revitalized through the simple experience of listening to music. His camera reveals the uniquely human connection we find in music and how its healing power can triumph where prescription medication falls short.
This stirring documentary follows social worker Dan Cohen, founder of the nonprofit organization Music & Memory, as he fights against a broken healthcare system to demonstrate music’s ability to combat memory loss and restore a deep sense of self to those suffering from it. Rossato-Bennett visits family members who have witnessed the miraculous effects of personalized music on their loved ones, and offers illuminating interviews with experts including renowned neurologist and best-selling author Oliver Sacks (Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain) and musician Bobby McFerrin (“Don’t Worry, Be Happy”).