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Passings: Glen Campbell (1936 - 2017)

by VVN Music

One of the greatest musicians and entertainers of the last fifty years, Glen Campbell, has died from complications of Alzheimer's disease.  He was 81.

His family issued the following statement:

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.

Campbell was born on April 22, 1936 in Billstown, near Delight, Arkansas and took up the guitar at a young age. In 1954, at the age of 18, he moved to Albuquerque to join his uncle in the band Dick Bills and the Sandia Mountain Boys. He followed with his own band, the Western Wranglers. In 1958, he released two singles with the Glen-Aires, Dreams For Sale and I Wonder.

In 1960, he moved to Los Angeles where he became an in-demand session artist, eventually becoming a part of The Wrecking Crew.  Glen also spent some time with The Champs. A year later, he left the band and was signed by Crest Records where his first single, Turn Around Look at Me, became a minor hit, going to 62 on the Hot 100 and 15 on the Adult Contemporary chart.

He moved to Capitol the next year where he released his first album, Too Late to Worry, Too Blue to Cry and had a long series of unsuccessful singles that finally came to an end in 1966 when Burning Bridges went to 18 on the Country singles.  He also spent time in the mid-60's as part of the Beach Boys' touring band.

Campbell's true breakthrough came a year later with Gentle on My Mind. While not a huge charting hit (#62 on the Hot 100, #30 on the Country Singles), it has gone on to be a standard and one of his best known songs. He followed with By the Time I Get to Phoenix (1967 / #26 Pop / #2 Country / #12 AC), I Wanna Live (1968 / #36 Pop / #1 Country / #18 AC) and Dreams of an Everyday Housewife (1968 / #32 Pop / #3 Country / #6 AC) before recording another of his signature songs.

Wichita Lineman was released late in the summer of 1968 and became his first top ten hit on the Hot 100, going to number 3 and number 1 on both Country and AC.  The Jimmy Webb song showed off Campbell's skills at both country and pop music using a combo of twangy guitar and lush strings.

That same year, he hosted a summer television program for the Smothers Brothers which led to his own variety show, The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour. The extra exposure kept him high on the charts for the next two years with Galveston (1969 / #4 Pop / #1 Country / #1 AC), True Grit (1969 / #35 Pop / #9 Country / #7 AC), Try a Little Kindness (1969 / #23 Pop / #2 Pop / #1 AC) and Honey Come Back (1970 / #19 Pop / #2 Country / #4 AC).

The Goodtime Hour was cancelled in 1972 with Campbell once again branching out into more acting. Almost five years went by without a major hit until 1975 when he released his biggest hit, Rhinestone Cowboy (1975 / #1 Pop / #1 Country / #1 AC). He did it again two years later with Alan Toussaint's Southern Nights (1977 / #1 Pop / #1 Country / #1 AC), which would be his last major pop hit even though he hit the Country top ten a number of times over the next decade.

Campbell was much less successful in his personal relationships.  Along with being married four times, his career took a major hit in the early-80's after a tumultuous relationship with Tanya Tucker became a regular feature on the front of tabloids.  It obviously ended up settling him down, though as, in 1982, he married Kim Wollen who he remained with until his death.

It was June of 2011 that Campbell announced that he was suffering from Alzheimer's disease and, even though, it continuously progressed over the years, he managed to not only record three more albums (Ghost on the Canvas, See You There and Adios) but also mount a fairly long farewell tour.

Campbell is a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame (2005).