Glen Campbell, the country music icon who recorded such hits as “Rhinestone Cowboy,” “Wichita Lineman” and “By the Time I Get to Phoenix” has passed away at the age of 81.
Campbell had been battling Alzheimer’s for several years.
A representative for Campbell’s label, Universal Music Group, confirmed his passing in a press release issued moments ago:
“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,” reads the statement.
Born in Billstown, Arkansas in 1936, Campbell began his music career at the age of 14, when he moved to Wyoming to play a circuit of rural bars with a musician uncle.
Shortly thereafter, Campbell moved to Los Angeles, where he earned a spot with the iconic group of session musicians known as the Wrecking Crew.
During his time as one of the most in-demand studio guitarists in the world, Campbell appeared on numerous hits, including the Byrds’ “Mr. Tambourine Man,” Elvis Presley’s “Viva Las Vegas,” Merle Haggard’s “Mama Tried,” and the Righteous Brothers’ “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling.”
In 1964, Campbell caught another big break when he was asked to fill in for the Beach Boys’ Brian Wilson, who had suffered a nervous breakdown during an international tour.
From there, Campbell embarked on a solo career, releasing his first major hit, “By the Time I Get to Phoenix,” in 1967.
Several other hits, including “Galveston” and “Wichita Lineman” followed soon thereafter.
After drawing raves for his appearance on the Smothers Brothers’ popular variety show in 1968, Campbell was accepted an offer to host his own series, The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour.
He used his position as host to shine a spotlight on such lesser-known artists as Willie Nelson.
“He exposed us to a big part of the world that would have never had the chance to see us,” said Nelson. “He’s always been a big help to me.”
In 1975, Campbell became a cross-over mega-star yet again with his biggest hit and signature tune, “Rhinestone Cowboy.”
Countless tributes to Campbell have poured in on social media, including the above tweet from his daughter, country singer Ashley, who posted a photo of her hand intertwined with her ailing father’s.
“Heartbroken. I owe him everything I am, and everything I ever will be. He will be remembered so well and with so much love,” wrote Ashley, who often accompanied her father on banjo in his later years.
Glen Campbell is survived by his wife, Kimberly Wollen, and eight children.
Our thoughts go out to his family during this difficult time.