The Times recently chatted with Ashley Campbell, whose father, Glen Campbell, needs no introduction. Ashley spoke with us about her experiences playing music with her dad on The Goodbye Tour, his Alzheimer's diagnosis and her family's advocacy in fighting the disease. The Campbells will perform at Robinson Center Music Hall on Thursday, Sept. 6.
Do you remember when you realized for the first time that your father was a famous musician and what that meant to you?
Well, you know how when you're a little kid and you don't really get it, he's just a dad, that's what he does? So I didn't really start fully appreciating it until I got halfway through high school and I started going, 'Oh my gosh, he's awesome.' And then since the Goodbye Tour kicked off, it's been tons of media and so many more people reaching out, so it's larger than life now. It's pretty cool.
Was there a moment that you realized it? Did someone say something to you, did you see one of his albums, or was there something like that, which first sparked that realization?
I can definitely say that it really hit me when we performed at the Grammys. That was huge.
When did you begin playing music with your father?
We've played music together my whole life, but we really started playing together in 2009, right after I graduated college. I went on an Australia and New Zealand tour with him. He asked me to play banjo and keyboards for him, so I've been doing it ever since.
Are you all enjoying the tour? What have been some of the highlights so far?
We've been having a blast on the tour; I loved going over the U.K. and traveling all over England, Scotland and Ireland on a bus and seeing all the cool fans over there. This one guy actually got the lyrics to my dad's song "A Better Place" tattooed on his arm. That was a guy in Scotland. It was pretty cool, he sent me a picture.
You mentioned in an interview with CBS Sunday Morning that you feel protective of your father. What are some of the things that you're watching out for when you guys are out on the road?
Well, because of the Alzheimer's, he can get a little spacey and you kind of need to keep an eye on him. I don't ever want him to look foolish or sad, so I just try and look out for him and make sure I can answer all his questions, and keep him happy and having a good day.
Do you think that your family's openness about your father's diagnosis will help other families confront the disease?
I definitely think so. We've spent a lot of time campaigning to raise money for Alzheimer's as well, to fight it. It's just been amazing. So many people come up to me with stories about family members who have Alzheimer's or who just passed away, or they're dealing with it right now. Before we got this diagnosis, I had no idea how huge this problem is in America and all over the world. It's just really opened my eyes to the problem and that we need to find a way to cure it.
Your mom has mentioned that the level of funding for Alzheimer's versus other diseases is much lower. Do you think increased awareness and people coming out in the open about it could result in more research funding?
I definitely think so. It's something people need to be talking about because it's only going to get worse. More and more people are getting it and even at younger ages. It's such a terrifying disease.
After this tour is over, how will you and the rest of the family carry on your dad's musical legacy?
My brother Shannon and I have a band together, Victoria Ghost, and we've been opening for my dad. We've got a manager in Nashville and we've got a lot of things going. So we're just going to work our butts off to try to get that going and hopefully we'll be touring pretty soon.
Will more Alzheimer's advocacy be a part of what you guys do?
Definitely. We have a man named James Keach who's making a documentary on my dad and this tour right now, and he's been really getting into the fighting Alzheimer's research. So we're just going to keep working no matter if the tour goes on or not. I'd really like to do more about it.
Obviously your dad is a native Arkansan. Do you guys still have family around here? Have you been to Arkansas before?
Oh yeah, we used to go to family reunions there every summer. Pretty much my dad's whole family still lives in Arkansas. All his brothers and sisters, they'll be coming to the shows while we're there, and we're having a little mini family reunion when we go, too.
The Times is giving away a pair of tickets to see Glen Campbell on Sept. 6 at Robinson Center Music Hall, along with some very swank 18-by-24-inch prints of the a concert poster by Jamie Mixon, who has created many of Verizon's striking promotional posters. The grand prize is two tickets and a print. We'll also give away a copy of the print to three more Times readers. It's on heavy cardstock and is suitable for framing.