Legendary country music singer Glen Campbell – best known for his 1975 hit “Rhinestone Cowboy” – passed away on August 9, 2017, following a long battle with Alzheimer’s. He was 81 years old.
“It is with the heaviest of hearts that we announce the passing of our beloved husband, father, grandfather, and legendary singer and guitarist, Glen Travis Campbell, at the age of 81, following his long and courageous battle with Alzheimer’s disease,” the singer’s family said in a statement.
Glen Travis Campbell was born on April 22, 1936 in Billstown, Arkansas. The seventh son of 12 children, Campbell expressed an interest in music early on. After dropping out of school at age 14, Campbell moved in with his uncle and joined his band – Dick Bills and the Sandia Mountain Boys. During this time, he also appeared on his uncle’s radio show and the children’s program, K Circle B Time. By 1958, Campbell had formed his own band, the Western Wranglers. Soon after, Campbell moved to Los Angeles and quickly solidified a spot with session pros the Wrecking Crew. Campbell appeared on 586 cuts in 1963 alone, appearing on countless more throughout the decade, including the Byrds’ “Mr. Tambourine Man,” Elvis Presley’s “Viva Las Vegas,” Merle Haggard’s “Mama Tried,” and the Righteous Brothers’ “You've Lost That Lovin’ Feeling.”
Between 1964 and 1965, Campbell filled in for Brian Wilson and toured with the Beach Boys, playing bass guitar and singing falsetto harmonies. At the same time, Campbell began appearing on television as a regular on Star Route, ABC's Shindig!, and Hollywood Jamboree. Campbell had his first major hit with “By the Time I Get to Phoenix,” written by Jimmy Webb, in 1967. He found additional success with “Gentle on My Mind,” “I Wanna Live,” and “Wichita Lineman.” The latter of which was Campbell's first Top 10 hit. In 1968, Campbell won several Grammys across both the country and pop categories, including Best Country & Western Solo Vocal Performance, Best Country & Western Song, and Best Vocal Performance. After guest hosting the Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour in 1968, Campbell received his own variety show, The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour – which he hosted from 1969 until 1972. Toward the end of the ’60s, Campbell also had roles in True Grit and Norwood.
During the 1970s, Campbell hosted a number of television specials, while also appearing on Donny & Marie, The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, The Merv Griffin Show, The Midnight Special, DINAH!, Evening at Pops, and The Mike Douglas Show. At the same time, Campbell had great success with top hits “Rhinestone Cowboy” and “Southern Nights,” as well as “Sunflower” and “Country Boy.” In 2005, Campbell was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame. Along with his ten Grammy wins, Campbell also received ten awards from the Academy of Country Music, including the Career Achievement Award this past year. On his final tour, Campbell played 151 shows, and his final studio album Adiós features a collection of cover songs by Bob Dylan, Harry Nilsson, and others.
“Glen is survived by his wife, Kim Campbell of Nashville; their three children, Cal, Shannon and Ashley; his children from previous marriages, Debby, Kelli, Travis, Kane, and Dillon; 10 grandchildren, great- and great-great-grandchildren; sisters Barbara, Sandra, and Jane; and brothers John Wallace ‘Shorty’ and Gerald,” read a statement on Campbell’s website.