August 8, 2017
Country Music Hall of Fame member Glen Campbell died today in Nashville at the age of 81. The country singer known for hits, "Rhinestone Cowboy, " "Southern Nights" and "Gentle On My Mind" passed away after a very public battle with Alzheimer's disease.
An Arkansas native, Campbell first made a name for himself as a session musician and was part of the famed "Wrecking Crew." His guitar work can be heard on songs that have defined American music including Frank Sinatra's "Strangers In the Night," Elvis Presley's "Viva Las Vegas," the Monkees "I'm A Believer" and the Beach Boys' "Sloop John B."
His solo career began slowly but in 1967 things began to take off with his singles, "Burning Bridges" and "Gentle On My Mind" - the latter of which won two Grammy Awards. In 1999, BMI, the music rights organization, announced it was the second most-played country song of the century.
Fans of his early career will remember "The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour" - a variety television show which introduced Linda Rondstadt and featured artists as varied as Bob Dylan and Stevie Wonder. The 1970s saw a string of hits like "Rhinestone Cowboy" but with the success came excess including alcohol and drug abuse, two failed marriages and a very public relationship with country star Tanya Tucker (23 years his junior).
Campbell eventually cleaned up his act and married Kimberly Woolen who would serve as a steadying influence the rest of his life. In 2005, he was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame. But in 2011, Campbell announced he was suffering from Alzheimer's disease and would be going on a farewell tour. He played his final show in California in 2012. Campbell's final album, "Adios," was released in June and features Willie Nelson, Vince Gill and three of Campbell's children, Ashley, Cal and Shannon.