February 13, 2012 / 5:00 AM / 7 years ago

Glen Campbell brings audience to its feet at Grammys

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Country music veteran Glen Campbell, diagnosed last year with Alzheimer’s disease, had no trouble remembering words to his signature song as he gave a rousing performance of “Rhinestone Cowboy” at the Grammy Awards show on Sunday.

The 75-year-old entertainer took the stage with contemporary country stars The Band Perry and Blake Shelton, who preceded him with their own versions of two other Campbell hits, “Gentle on My Mind” and “Southern Nights.”

Within moments, he had the celebrity-studded crowd at the Staples Center on their feet and singing along, including former Beatle Paul McCartney and guitarist Joe Walsh, who was seen dancing in the aisle with his wife, Marjorie.

Ever the showman, Campbell pointed his microphone at the audience for each chorus, inviting them to join in on the line, “Like a Rhinestone Cowboy!” and the hall’s musical luminaries all joyfully obliged.

The performance, delivered without a hitch, ended in a hail of cheers and applause as Campbell shouted, “Thank y’all so much!” then turned to leave the stage as the lights went down and could be heard gamefully asking, “Where do I go?”

Campbell, a five-time Grammy winner who had been suffering from short-term memory loss for years, revealed in a People magazine article in June that he had been diagnosed six months before as being in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease.

His wife, Kim, said then that the couple decided to go public with his diagnosis ahead of a final, farewell concert tour that he launched in the fall of 2011.

Campbell started out as a session guitarist for the Beach Boys and producer Phil Spector before rising to fame in the 1960s with hits that included “Wichita Lineman” and “By the Time I Get to Phoenix.” Perhaps his best-known song, “Rhinestone Cowboy” was a No. 1 hit in 1975.

He hosted his own CBS variety show, the “Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour,” from 1969 to 1972, and co-starred with John Wayne in the original 1969 movie version of “True Grit.”

Editing by Eric Beech

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