Glen Campbell, ‘Rhinestone Cowboy’ Singer who Fused Country and also Pop, Dead at 81

Singer-guitarist and TV organize who completed crossover success succumbs to Alzheimer’s disease


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Glen Campbell, the indelible voice behind 21 optimal 40 hits including “Rhinestone Cowboy,” “Wichita Lineman” and “By the time I gain to Phoenix,” passed away Tuesday. He to be 81. A rep for global Music Group, Campbell’s record label, shown the singer’s fatality to rolling Stone.During a career that spanned six decades, Campbell marketed over 45 million records. In 1968, one of his biggest years, that outsold the Beatles.

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“It is with the most difficult of hearts that we announce the passing of our beloved husband, father, grandfather, and also legendary singer and guitarist, glen Travis Campbell, at the period of 81, following his long and courageous battle with Alzheimer’s disease,” the singer’s household said in a statement.


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Campbell was a rarely breed in the music business, with assorted careers as a top-level studio guitarist, chart-topping singer and hit television host. His late-career fight with Alzheimer’s – he enabled a documentary crew to movie on his last tour for the 2014 award-winning I’ll it is in Me –made that a public challenge for the disease, a duty President bill Clinton argued would one day be mental even more than his music.


“He had actually that beautiful tenor through a crystal-clear guitar sound, playing lines the were so inventive,” Tom small told Rolling rock during a 2011 file of Campbell. “It moved me.”

Campbell to be born in 1936 in Billstown, Arkansas, the seventh boy in a sharecropping family members of 12 kids. “We supplied to clock TV through candlelight,” Campbell told Rolling Stone in 2011.

In his youth, Campbell started playing guitar and became obsessed v jazz guitarist Django Reinhardt. The dropped the end of school as soon as he to be 14 and also moved to Wyoming v an uncle who was a musician, play gigs with each other at countryside bars. The soon moved to Los Angeles and by 1962 had solidified a spot in the Wrecking Crew, a group of conference pros. In 1963 alone, he appeared on 586 cuts and also 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 shed That Lovin’ Feeling.”

“I’d need to pick cotton for a year to do what I’d do in a week in L.A.,” that said. “I learned it was an important to play right on the edge of the to win … It provides you journey the tune more. You’re ahead of the beat, however you’re not.” other Wrecking Crew member Leon Russell referred to as Campbell “the ideal guitar player I’d heard before or since. Occasionally we’d play with 50- or 60-piece orchestras. His deal was that didn’t check out , therefore they would certainly play the one time for him, and also he had it.”

In so late 1964, Brian Wilson had a nervous malfunction on tour with the beach Boys, and also the band called on Campbell to change him top top bass and high harmonies. “I take it Brian’s place and also that was just … I was in heaven then – hog heaven!” Campbell remarked.

“He fit ideal in,” stated Wilson. “His main forte is he’s a an excellent guitar player, but he’s also a much better singer 보다 all the rest. He could sing higher than i could!” Wilson even wrote an early song, “I assumption: v I’m Dumb,” for Campbell. His very first hit to be a cover of Buffy Sainte-Marie’s antiwar track “Universal Soldier.” yet Campbell’s very own political views often tended to be conservative. “The human being who space advocating burning breeze cards must be hung,” he claimed in 1965.

Campbell had his first major struggle in 1967, with “By the moment I get to Phoenix,” written by Jimmy Webb, one L.A. Kid with a knack for detailed ballads. “Glen’s vocal power and technique was the perfect automobile for these, in a way, an extremely sentimental and romantic songs. And also I think that you recognize we made some documents that were very nearly perfect. ‘Wichita Lineman’ is a very near perfect pop record,” Webb said. “I think in the procedure that Glen to be a element mover in the whole development of the nation crossover phenomenon the made the careers of Kenny Rogers and some other… numerous other artist possible.”


The song kicked off a working relationship that had the haunting Vietnam war ballad “Galveston,” the tender “Gentle on mine Mind” and also “Wichita Lineman,” Campbell’s first Top 10 hit. V swelling orchestral arrangements and slick production, the song weren’t exactly thought about hip in the Sixties. “They feeling packaged for a middle-of-the-road, enlarge crowd,” claimed Tom Petty. “At first, girlfriend go, ‘Oh, ns don’t know around that.’ yet it to be such pure, an excellent stuff that you had actually to put off her prejudices and learn come love it. It taught me no to have those prejudices.” In 1968, Campbell won Grammys in both the country and also pop categories, includingBest country & western Solo Vocal Performance, Male, ideal Country & western Song and also Best Vocal Performance, Male.

In the summer that 1968, Campbell guest organized the Smothers brothers Comedy Hour. The successful appearance caused his own range show, The glen Campbell Goodtime Hour, i m sorry he organized from 1969 until 1972. Artists favor Ray Charles, Johnny Cash and also Linda Ronstadt carry out on the show, which likewise gave a nationwide platform to rising country stars favor Willie Nelson. “He exposed us to a big part the the world that would have actually never had the opportunity to check out us,” stated Nelson. “He’s always been a big help to me.”

A young Steve Martin was a writer on the show. “He simply went along with it,” Martin claimed in I’ll be Me. “He was totally game, and totally fun, and had sort of a down-home sense of humor. The was just an incredible treat for us young authors to be presented to talent at the level at together a young age.”

Campbell’s boyish charisma led man Wayne to cast him in a co-starring function in 1969’s True Grit. He later on said that his exhilaration was therefore amateurish that he “gave john Wayne that push to win the Academy Award.” however the an excellent times didn’t last: His show was canceled; his first feature film, 1970’s Norwood, flopped; and also the hits dried up for a few years. Then, Campbell score a smash v 1975’s “Rhinestone Cowboy.” It started a comeback that consisted of hits “Country young (You acquired Your Feet in L.A.”) and “Southern Nights.” The access time slowed down again in the Eighties; in the Nineties he opened up the valley Campbell Goodtime Theatre in Branson, Missouri.


Campbell to be married 4 times, and has 5 sons and also three daughters. In the early 1980s, when battling alcoholism and also cocaine addiction, Campbell made tabloid headlines v a 15-month, high-profile relationshipwith country singer Tanya Tucker, that was 22 years his junior. In 1981, he became a born-again Christian and in 1982 that marriedKimberly Woollen, a Radio City Music room Rockette, who aided Campbell clean up his life.

In 2003, he to be arrested for a hit-and-run, an occurrence that ended with him accused kneeing a police officer in the thigh right before he to be released. Campbell pleaded guilty to too much drunken driving and also leaving the step of one accident, and spent 10 work in jail.

In 2011, Campbell, then 75, revealed the he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. In June of the year, that announced he to be retiring from music due to the disease. He exit his last album of original music Ghost ~ above the Canvas (with guest Billy Corgan, Paul Westerberg and Jakob Dylan) and embarked top top a farewell tourism with three of his youngsters backing him.

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He play 151 shows on his final tour. “The audience being there in which method triggers his capacity to access that other component of his brain,” U2’s The leaf said. “It’s incredible.”

“This tour of his simply says, ‘Here ns am, here’s what’s happening come me,"” Clinton said. “‘I’m going out v a smile on mine face and also a track in my love so you will know,’ – and also that may be much more of his enduring heritage than all the music the made.”

He spent his final years in an helped living facility. His friends and also children would often spend days through him play him his old songs. “Music utilizes every one of the brain, not simply one tiny section the it,” Woollen noted. “Everything’s firing every at once. It’s yes, really stimulating and also probably aided him plateau and also not progress as quickly as he could have. I could tell native his spirits that it was an excellent for him. The made him really happy. The was great for the entirety family to proceed touring and also to just keep life our lives. And also we hope it urges other civilization to carry out the same.”

Earlier this year, Campbell releasedAdiós, his last studio album, a arsenal of largely cover song by Bob Dylan, bother Nilsson and others, recorded after his goodbye Tour. “Almost every time he satellite down with a guitar, these were his go-to songs,” daughter Ashley Campbell said Rolling stone Country. “They were an extremely much engrained in his memory – like, therefore far ago that castle were among the last things he began losing.”