Country music legend Glen Campbell dead at 81

Aug 08, 2017 by Ian Evans

Glen Campbell, the country and pop music legend, has died at the age of 81 after a long battle with Alzheimer’s disease.

Campbell had 21 hits in the Top 40 charts, including “Wichita Lineman,” “By the Time I Get to Phoenix,” and “Rhinestone Cowboy.” He sold over 45 million records.

His family released a statement that said, “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.”

He started off as a session musician — part of the famed Wrecking Crew — that saw him work on songs for Phil Spector’s acts and The Beach Boys. He played on The Byrd’s “Mr. Tambourine Man” and Elvis’ “Viva Las Vegas.” When Brian Wilson had a nervous breakdown, Campbell took his spot on tour with The Beach Boys as well as playing on their classic album Pet Sounds.

His first solo acclaim came with a cover of Buffy Sainte-Marie’s “Universal Soldier” but his first big hit was in 1967 when he recorded songwriter Jimmy Webb’s “By the Time I Get to Phoenix.” He had success with several songs Webb penned for him, like “Galveston,” “Gentle on My Mind” and “Wichita Lineman,” which took him into the Top 10.

Campbell’s talent and easy charm made him perfect for TV and he hosted The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour between 1969 and 1972, a show that counted comedian Steve Martin amongst its writing staff. TV led to films, including working opposite John Wayne in True Grit.

Perhaps Campbell’s most moving film performance was in one that traced his real-life battle with Alzheimer’s disease. He announced he had it in 2011 and announced his retirement but not after a 151 show farewell tour and album, Ghost on the Canvas, that was documented in the 2014 movie I’ll be Me.

His final album, a collection of covers called AdiĆ³s, was released earlier this year.