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Country music’s “Rhinestone Cowboy” Glen Campbell has passed away. He was 81 years old.
According to TMZ, Glen passed away on Tuesday (August 8) at 10 AM following a long battle with Alzheimer’s Disease.
Glen’s family revealed the sad news about his death in a statement which was quoted by Rolling Stone:
“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,”
Glen was born on April 22, 1936 in Billstown, Arkansas as the seventh son out of 12 children. He started playing the guitar at a young age, and credited his uncle Boo for helping teach him how to play.
At age 18, Glen joined his uncle’s band in Albuquerque, where he remained for four years until he went on and formed his own band called the Western Wranglers. He eventually made the move to Los Angeles, where he became one of the most sought-after session musicians in the business. As a session musician, he ended up playing for Elvis Presley, Merle Haggard, Frank Sinatra, and many other legendary artists.
In 1961, Glen signed his first recording contract and released his debut single “Turn Around Look at Me,” which made its way to the 61st spot on the charts. From late 1964 to early 1965 he filled in for Brian Wilson as a member the Beach Boys. Glen scored his biggest hit up to that point with a cover of Buffy Sainte-Marie’s “Universal Soldier,” which broke into the Top 50 on the Billboard Hot 100.
“Universal Soldier” was just the beginning of a booming career for Glen. In the years that followed he released a string of hits, including “Gentle On My Mind,” “By the Time I Get To Phoenix,” and “Wichita Lineman.” But it was Glen’s 1975 single “Rhinestone Cowboy” that he became best known for, after the song topped both the country and pop charts in the U.S.
Glen eventually placed an astonishing total of 80 songs on the charts, and earned nine number one hits. With five decades under his belt as an artist, Glen recorded a total of 70 albums and sold 45 million records worldwide. He was the recipient of multiple Grammy, CMA, and ACM Awards, and received one of country music’s highest honors when he was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2005.
After enjoying a long and successful career, Glen shocked the country community when he announced in June 2011 that he had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s six months prior. Once he revealed his diagnosis, Glen made the decision to go on a “Goodbye Tour,” and even though he sometimes had trouble remembering the lyrics and the order he was supposed to play the songs, he saw the tour all the way through to its last show on November 30, 2012.
The tour later became the subject of the Grammy Award-winning documentary Glen Campbell: I’ll Be Me, which gave an inside look into Glen’s daily struggles with his disease.
As the disease progressed, Glen’s wife, Kim, made the difficult decision to place him in a long-term care facility in Nashville. During one of her interviews about her husband, Kim spoke about how Glen had entered the final stage of the disease. Although he eventually lost his ability to communicate and play the guitar, Kim said he always remembered his faith in God.
Glen is survived by his wife Kim, their three children Cal, Shannon, and Ashley, as well as his children from his previous marriages, Debby, Kelli, Travis, Kane, and Dillion.
Although the story of Glen’s strong fight against Alzheimer’s is inspiring, he will always be remembered most for the gifted artist he was. Tune in below to watch the music video for his farewell song, “Adiós.”
Per the family’s request via a statement on Facebook, in lieu of flowers those wishing to honor Glen may do so by making a donation for Alzheimer’s research to the Glen Campbell Memorial Fund at BrightFocus Foundation through Careliving.org.
Our thoughts and prayers are with Glen’s loved ones during this time. He is so dearly missed.