Glen Campbell, Country Music and TV Personality, Dead at 81

The artist recorded a string of hit songs by Jimmy Webb and others.

August 9, 2017 9:24 am
Glen Campbell Dead at 81
Glen Campbell, circa 1967. (Silver Screen Collection/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

The music world has lost another legend. Country star Glen Campbell, who had been suffering from the late stages of Alzheimer’s Disease—but miraculously recorded a final album, Adiós, released this past June—died yesterday at the age of 81.

Long before country music was the bro-y, crossover powerhouse that it is today, Campbell enjoyed a wide popularity known only to a handful of Nashville’s brightest stars (see: Johnny Cash). Some might scoff at artists who thrive on the adult contemporary, Billboard 100, and country charts, but what if we told you Campbell landed 80 on the trio throughout a half-a-century-long career? That’s hard to beat.

Campbell first rose to prominence as a session musician, playing on records by everybody from Elvis Presley to Nat King Cole and the Monkees. He even did a turn touring with the Beach Boys, filling in for Brian Wilson on bass and backing vocals.

That led to his own breakout as a solo artist and a string of hit songs, penned by a coterie of the industry’s top scribes, such as John Hartford (“Gentle on My Mind”); Jimmy Webb (“By the Time I Get to Phoenix,” “Wichita Lineman”); and Larry Weiss, who penned Campbell’s signature song, “Rhinestone Cowboy.” He would go on to win 10 Grammys.

Campbell even had time for a television and movie career, hosting his own music variety show in the ’60s and ’70s, The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour; and starring in the original True Grit (1969), whose title song—sung by Campbell, of course—was nominated for an Oscar.

RCLife‘s Jim Farber recently included one of Campbell’s singles, “Adiós,” on his summer playlist. Take a listen here.

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