In the Loop

News and views from across Mayo Clinic

August 21, 2014

The Rhinestone Cowboy and Mayo Clinic

By In the Loop
Glen Campbell and Ronald Petersen, M.D., in the movie "Glen Campbell: I'l Be Me."

A scene from the documentary "Glen Campbell: I'll Be Me," due out this fall.

For more than five decades, Glen Campbell has been making our ears happy with songs from his more than 70 studio albums. But back in 2011, an Alzheimer's disease diagnosis threatened to put that to an end. Rather than riding off into the sunset, however, Campbell decided to give the world an inside look at his battle with the disease through a new documentary due out this fall called, "Glen Campbell: I'll Be Me," according to Entertainment Tonight. And he invited Mayo's Ron Petersen, M.D., Ph.D., along for the ride. (Dr. Petersen even made the movie trailer.)

"The producers asked if Mayo would like to be involved by lending some medical expertise to the film to help explain what Alzheimer's is all about," Dr. Petersen tells us. "I, of course, said yes." From there, Dr. Petersen says he began having discussions with the film's producers, and Campbell himself, to hammer out what his involvement in the documentary would look like. "They invited me to some of Glen's concerts over the next year or so, and that started a relationship with him," Dr. Petersen says. "I thought it was a good opportunity, since Glen and his family had already agreed to be public about the disease."

Dr. Petersen says he also thought it would be a good way for Mayo Clinic to help raise awareness of Alzheimer's disease and highlight what needs to be done about the disease. "I hope the film highlights the struggles and needs of those living with the disease, and I also hope it highlights the need for increased funding for research … since research is the only way we're going to have any impact on reducing the effects of Alzheimer's," he tells us. He also says he hopes Glen Campbell's story "will have an effect on the perception of the disease and help show the importance of doing something about it right now."

Whatever happens, Dr. Petersen says he just feels honored to be involved in a film like this. "It's really been a unique experience for me," he says. "To go through this whole experience, to watch the film evolve, and to again use it as an opportunity to highlight the importance of Alzheimer's disease by following someone who on one hand was performing quite well on stage but was having considerable difficulties off-stage -- I hope that helps highlight the effects of this disease and what needs to be done about it."

Oh, and in case you're wondering (like we were) what Dr. Petersen's favorite Glen Campbell song is, "It's called 'The Moon is a Harsh Mistress,'" he says. "It's a great song that he does in the documentary but not one that a lot of people are familiar with."

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Here's the trailer.

Tags: Alzheimer's Disease, Dr. Ronald Petersen, Patient Stories, research, Staff Stories

Thank you for sharing this. My husband was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s at age 57 and died at 62. My mother also died from Alzheimer’s. I hope a cure is found. I wish Glen and his family the best. Look forward to this movie documentary.

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