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Glen Campbell Dead at 81

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Glen Campbell, whose career took him from the L.A. studio scene to success in country music, pop, television and movies, has died at the age of 81.

Campbell died on Tuesday (Aug. 8) after a battle with Alzheimer’s at a care facility in Nashville. Universal Music Group confirmed the singer’s death to Rolling Stone, and Campbell’s publicist, Tim Plumley, issued a statement from Campbell’s family that reads, “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.”

Born the seventh of 12 children in 1936 in Billstown, Ark., Campbell credited his uncle for introducing him to the guitar. In 1954 he moved to Albuquerque to join his uncle’s band, where he also appeared on his uncle’s radio show, as well as on a local television program for kids. By 1960 he’d moved on to Los Angeles, where he quickly established himself as one of the top session musicians in the city’s recording scene.

A versatile singer as well as guitarist, Campbell became one of an elite group of L.A. musicians known as the Wrecking Crew,  playing on recordings by artists as diverse as the Monkees, Jan and Dean, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Nat King Cole, Merle HaggardSimon and Garfunkel and many more.

Glen Campbell’s Life and Career in Pictures

Campbell played guitar on the Beach Boys‘ landmark Pet Sounds album, and following Brian Wilson‘s breakdown and subsequent inability to tour, he joined the band on the road from December of 1964 until March of 1965, playing bass and singing falsetto harmonies.  He turned down a permanent spot in the band, instead signing a solo deal with Capitol, and by 1967 he began a string of hits that would see him earn success in both the country and pop charts, including “Gentle on My Mind,” “By the Time I Get to Phoenix,” “Wichita Lineman,” “Galveston” and his signature song, “Rhinestone Cowboy.”

The multi-talented entertainer acted alongside John Wayne in True Grit in 1969, hosted his own TV variety show, The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour, from 1969-1972 and earned an armload of awards, including Grammys, CMA and ACM awards. In 2005 he was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.

Campbell announced he had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in June of 2011, and he announced his Goodbye Tour later that year, which is documented in the film Glen Campbell: I’ll Be Me. The iconic musician recorded “I’m Not Gonna Miss You,” which appeared in the film, and won Best Country Song honors at the 2015 Grammy Awards. “I’m Not Gonna Miss You” was also nominated for an Oscar for Best Original Song.

He released the final album of his career, Adios, in June. Though his family was happy he was able to put out one more recorded work, they admitted it was bittersweet.

“We don’t want to sugarcoat it,” daughter Ashley Campbell told the Boot. “He has no idea that he has an album out. He had no idea when he won a Grammy.”

No funeral plans or Glen Campbell have yet been announced.

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