More Than A ‘Rhinestone Cowboy,’ Glen Campbell Passes At The Age Of 81

It is with a heavy heart that BackstageOL has to report the passing of Glen Campbell. One of the giants of popular music with such hits as “Turn Around, Look At Me,” “Wichita Lineman,” and “Rhinestone Cowboy,” Campbell, age 81, passed away following his six-year fight with Alzheimer’s disease.

Glen Travis Campbell was born, one of 12 children, on 22 April 1936 in Billstown, near Delight in Arkansas. He was playing guitar from the time his first instrument arrived by mail order when he was four. “I think it was seven dollars, which was quite a sacrifice,” he told the Guardian newspaper in 2000.

With Campbell’s passing, 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.

“Glen is survived by his wife, Kim Campbell of Nashville, TN; their three children, Cal, Shannon and Ashley; his children from previous marriages, Debby, Kelli, Travis, Kane, and Dillon; ten grandchildren, great- and great-great-grandchildren; sisters Barbara, Sandra, and Jane; and brothers John Wallace ‘Shorty’ and Gerald.

“In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Glen Campbell Memorial Fund at BrightFocus Foundation through the donation page. A personal statement from Kim Campbell will follow. The family appreciates your prayers and respect for their privacy at this time.”

James Keach, who wrote Walter Hill’s western The Long Riders (1980) and produced the Oscar-winning Walk the Line (2005), grabbed a crew and followed Campbell as the musician did his European farewell tour. The result was the 2014 documentary I’ll Be Me.

Rather than keep his mental condition secret the Campbell family has been very public as evident by the documentary. He also released one last studio album this past June, affectionately titled Adiós.

Glen Campbell’s career spread across fifty years, which began with his first music recording occurring in 1961. His dashing good looks and charm allowed him to venture beyond the studio and music stage to appear on television and in movies, including John Wayne’s True Grit. For his music career he would win six Grammy Awards and sell over 50 million records.

While renowned for his solo albums, when Campbell was in his twenties he was one of the most in-demand session players in Los Angeles. He appeared on the Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds as well as recordings by Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley, Dean Martin, and the Righteous Brothers.

By the late 1960s, Campbell scored his first top ten pop single with “Wichita Lineman” followed by “Galveston.” His charm would suit him well on his very own talk show, the Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour (1969-1972). His career would hit a rough patch the years that followed but would rebound in 1975 with the release of “Rhinestone Cowboy.”

Glen Campbell was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2005 and won a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2012.

To his millions of fans Campbell will always be more than just a Rhinestone Cowboy.

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