Helen Reddy Dies With Dementia at Age 78

Singer Helen Reddy, known for many top 40 hits in the 1970’s, has died in a Los Angeles nursing home after suffering with dementia since 2015.

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Helen Reddy Dies With Dementia at Age 78
3 Min Read August 4th, 2015 Updated:November 6th, 2020

Australian singer Helen Reddy, known for several hits in the 1970s, including "I Am Woman," "Delta Dawn," and "Angie Baby" has died at age 78.

Reddy was diagnosed with dementia in 2015 and lived in a Los Angeles nursing home for professional entertainers.  

Family Makes Announcement

In a statement posted to her fan page, Reddy's children announced their Mom's death.

"It is with deep sadness that we announce the passing of our beloved mother, Helen Reddy, on the afternoon of September 29th, 2020, in Los Angeles," the statement said.

"She was a wonderful Mother, Grandmother, and a truly formidable woman. Our hearts are broken. But we take comfort in the knowledge that her voice will live on forever."

Reddy Dominated Top 40 Radio in 70s

Her voice was huge in the 70s as pop radio played her hits. Reddy's 1971 version of "I Don't Know How to Love Him" from the musical "Jesus Christ Superstar" started a decade of hits, three of which reached No. 1.

She had six top 40 chart hits in the 70s. "I Am Woman" went number one on the charts in 1972. "Delta Dawn" and "Leave Me Alone (Ruby Red Dress)" went number one in 1973. "Angie Baby" was number one in 1974.

In 1973 she won the best female vocal pop performance Grammy Award for "I Am Woman," the first Australian to do so. She was the world's top-selling female vocalist in 1973 and 1974.

Reddy also appeared as a singing nun in the hit movie "Airport 1975".

In 2015 Australia radio station 2ST's Pete Brandtman reported that Reddy was diagnosed with dementia and moved into a Los Angeles nursing facility where she has been cared for until her death. 

At the time, a story by Los Angles entertainment journalist Alan Duke from website "Lead Stories" reported the new in what he called an "exclusive."

 “While one source says the progressive illness is in its early stages, marked by Reddy "asking same question every few minutes," another source suggested the symptoms were more advanced. She would forget where she put something and then suspect someone stole it, the second source said.

Alan Duke, from website “Lead Stories”

Reddy became a resident of the Motion Picture and Television Fund's Samuel Goldwyn Center for Behavioral Health in Woodland Hills, California, in June, both sources confirmed.

List of Musicians Who Suffered with Dementia

Reddy has joined a long list of musicians that have been silenced due to some form of dementia. Some of the names include:

  • Sean Connery
  • Malcolm Young, AC/DC musician
  • Glen Campbell, Country Music Star
  • Perry Como, Singer entertainer
  • Thomas Dorsey, singer
  • John Mann, songwriter
  • Kay Swift, composer
  • Rudolph Bing, opera impresario
  • Aaron Copland, composer

Interestingly enough, music has been shown to benefit those who have dementia. MUSIC & MEMORY® is a non-profit organization that has worked in this area. The group creates music playlists for those with dementia who live in long-term care facilities. These music playlists have helped patients reduce their dependence on antipsychotic medication. The music has shown to lessen their disruptive behavior.

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