Some days when she first wakes up, Glen Campbell’s widow, Kim, forgets that he’s no longer with her. “Every morning, he used to give me a big hug and whisper ‘I’m in love with you,’” she exclusively recalled to Closer Weekly in the magazine’s latest issue, on newsstands now. “We had a lot of trials, but we were so in love throughout our marriage.”
As a tribute to her husband and his legendary music career, the Glen Campbell Museum will have its grand opening in Nashville on April 22. That date’s no accident — it would have been Glen’s 84th birthday. “I realized that by telling Glen’s story, he could continue to inspire musicians and encourage people living with all sorts of challenges,” says Kim, who was married to the star for 34 years.
In classic rags-to-riches fashion, Glen grew up the seventh son of 12 children born to an Arkansas sharecropper. “He was a child prodigy,” says Kim, noting that he picked up guitar at age 4. Arkansas couldn’t hold him. In his 20s, Glen moved to Los Angeles and began getting session work — a lot of it! He played on the recordings of every big name of the period, from Frank Sinatra and Doris Day to Elvis Presley and the Beach Boys.
The new museum traces Glen’s evolution from unknown guitarist to studio musician to solo performer. By the late 1960s, hits like “Wichita Lineman” and “Gentle on My Mind” made Glen a star. As host of The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour, which ran from 1969 to 1972, he became a household name.
“He would have loved watching all the clips of him playing guitar with Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash and Jerry Reed,” says Kim of the videos on display at the museum. “If he could be here, he’d probably stand at the door and welcome everyone in.”
Glen married four times and fathered eight children. “They’re all very talented and that made him proud,” says Kim, who remembers Glen most as a “loving father and husband.” Still, she didn’t allow the museum to whitewash Glen’s struggles with alcoholism and cocaine abuse in the ’70s and ’80s. “Glen was very public about his battle,” she says. “I hope people find it inspirational.”
He faced an even bigger challenge when he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2011. Glen performed a series of goodbye shows, which were filmed for a documentary, to bask in the applause of his fans one last time. “We believe that music helped him,” says Kim, who founded the Kim & Glen Campbell Foundation to research how music can be used as medicine. “He helped take Alzheimer’s out of the shadows and remove some of the stigma.”
Glen, who passed away in 2017, will always be remembered for his songs, but Kim is proud of his courage, too. “His whole life is a testimony to the faithfulness of God,” she says, “and his ability to transform your life if you place your faith in him.”
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