Glen Campbell passed away on Tuesday, August 8th at around 10 AM. According to sources close to Campbell’s family, he died of Alzheimer’s Disease in a Nashville, TN facility. Campbell was a legend in the country-music business with a career that spanned over five decades. He was a prolific musician with 70 albums and was known for such hits as “Wichita Lineman,” “Galveston,” and “Rhinestone Cowboy.” He is survived by his wife Kim and their eight children. Mr. Campbell was 81 years old at the time of his passing.
Glen Campbell won four Grammy’s in 1967 and the CMA Entertainer of the Year award the very next year. He went on to win a total of ten Grammy’s and ten CMA Awards over the span of his career. Campbell also made several appearances in film and on TV. He had acting roles in eleven different films or shows from 1965 to 1997. He was the subject of the documentaries “The Wrecking Crew,” in 2008 and “I’ll Be Me,” in 2014. The latter covered Campbell’s struggles with Alzheimer’s. Two of his most prominent roles were in 1967s “The Cool Ones,” and in 1969s “True Grit,” alongside John Wayne. He had his own variety show called “The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour,” from 1969 to 1972.
Glen Campbell was born in Billstown, Arkansas on April 26th, 1936. He came from a large family of 12 children and was the 7th born to John Wesley and Carrie Dell-Campbell. The family was poor and got by growing cotton and a few edible crops such as corn. Glen would often pick cotton on other farms to make extra money. An uncle gave him the gift of a cheap guitar at the age of four. The guitar was purchased through Sears for only $5.00. By age six, Glen was performing for small crowds and even on the radio.
Glen Campbell continued to play his guitar, but never had formal instruction or lessons of any kind. Instead, he taught himself by listening to his favorite musicians on the radio and trying to copy what he heard. Among his early influences, Campbell listed Django Reinhardt as one of the greatest guitarists he had ever heard. AT only 14 years old, Campbell dropped out of school and took a job as an insulation installer. All of his free time was spent practicing the guitar and playing at fairs and churches. He joined his uncle’s band in 1954 and then started his own in 1958, calling them the Western Wranglers.
Starting in 1960, Glen Campbell found work as a studio musician in Los Angeles, CA. His often uncredited playing can be heard on albums by Bobby Darin, Elvis, Frank Sinatra, Merle Haggard and more. He was signed by Crest Records in 1961 where he had moderate success. He later signed with Capitol Records in 1962. He had a string of largely unsuccessful records and songs released during this time. Over the next few years he filled in on tour with the Beach Boys and later with Ricky Nelson.
Glen Campbell’s first big hits came in 1967 to 1968 with classics such as “Wichita Lineman,” “Gentle on My Mind,” and “I Want to Live.” He soon found himself being offered movie roles and TV roles hosting the “The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour,” and then his very own variety show. Campbell’s TV series showcased some of the biggest stars in music including Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash and The Beatles. The mid-70s saw more big hits from Campbell such as “Rhinestone Cowboy,” “Country Boy,” and “Southern Nights.” He also appeared frequently on various TV shows and in more movies.
Glen Campbell had a long, successful and prolific career for over 50 years. He was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2010. He soon went on a farewell tour with his last show in November of 2012 in California. The ACM awarded Glen Campbell their Lifetime Achievement Award on August 30, 2016. The award was accepted by his wife, Kim. His final album was just released in July of 2017. His wife, Kim Campbell will be speaking at an event in Tyler, TX in November. The event is being hosted by the Alzheimer’s Alliance of Smith County.
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