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GLEN CAMPBELL, 1936-2017

Glen Campbell, who rose from a virtuoso L.A. session guitarist to the biggest country crossover star of the 1960s and, late in life, battled in public with Alzheimer's disease, died today. He was 81.

The family confirmed his death in a statement that read, "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.”

"Glen is survived," the statement continues, "by his wife, Kim Campbell of Nashville, TN; their three children, Cal, Shannon and Ashley; his children from previous marriages, Debby, Kelli, Travis, Kane, and Dillon; ten grandchildren, great- and great-great-grandchildren; sisters Barbara, Sandra, and Jane; and brothers John Wallace “Shorty” and Gerald. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Glen Campbell Memorial Fund at BrightFocus Foundation through the CareLiving.org donation page. A personal statement from Kim Campbell will follow. The family appreciates your prayers and respect for their privacy at this time."

With songs mostly written by Jimmy Webb, Campbell ascended the pop charts in the 1960s with “Wichita Lineman,” “Galveston,” “By the Time I Get to Phoenix” and “Dreams of the Everyday Housewife,” hitting #1 with Larry Weiss' “Rhinestone Cowboy” in 1975 and his version of Allen Toussaint’s “Southern Nights” two years later. Campbell's early style was slick and heavy on orchestral arrangements, which connected with audiences far beyond traditional country listeners; he sold more than 45m records during a recording career that ended with the release of Adios in the spring.

He had a long and varied career, beginning with session work in L.A. as part of the Wrecking Crew on hits such as The Byrds' "Mr. Tambourine Man" and The Righteous Brothers' "You've Lost That Lovin' Feeling." He was a touring member of The Beach Boys for a short spell; had his own variety show on TV, The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour, from 1969 until 1972; tried his hand acting opposite John Wayne; and in the 2000s, recorded covers of songs associated with musicians a generation or two younger than him.

His final tour, at which time it was disclosed he was suffering from Alzheimer’s, was a lengthy one that ran 15 months in 2011 and 2012. A documentary of his life at the time, I’ll Be Me, yielded the Grammy–winning song “I’m Not Gonna Miss You.”

“Glen Campbell will forever be an essential part of
the fabric of American music."—UMG chief Sir Lucian Grainge

Campbell received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2012.

Campbell was born in Arkansas where he learned to play guitar in the style of swing jazz master Django Reinhardt. He moved to Wyoming to live with an uncle when he was 14, earning his keep by playing in bars.

He moved to Los Angeles in 1962 where he became a first-call studio guitarist. He replaced Brian Wilson on bass and vocals for a Beach Boys tour in 1964 and ‘65.

He signed with Capitol Records in 1962 after releasing a single on Crest but did not chart until 1965 when his cover of Buffy Sainte-Marie's "Universal Soldier" went to #45. "By the Time I Get to Phoenix," released in 1967, started his run of hits: He hit the pop Top 40 with 21 singles and would register seven consecutive #1 country albums by the end of the decade, scoring another nine country #1s in the 1970s.

He had a solid night at the Grammy Awards in 1968, winning four awards in pop and country categories for “By the Time I Get to Phoenix” and “Gentle on My Mind.” When his By the Time I Get to Phoenix won Album of the Year a year later, he was the first country artist to win the top honor.

Campbell had drug and alcohol issues in the 1980s and ‘90s and his recorded output was often either religious or Christmas related.

He enjoyed a career revival with 2008 the release of Meet Glen Campbell that saw him interpreting the songs of Tom Petty, Jackson Browne, The Replacements and others. He followed that with Ghost on the Canvas, released in 2011 shortly before his Alzheimer's diagnosis was revealed.

Campbell was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2005 and three of his songs have been inducted into the Grammy Awards Hall of Fame: “Wichita Lineman,” “By the Time I Get to Phoenix” and “Gentle on My Mind.”

“Glen Campbell will forever be an essential part of the fabric of American music," goes a statement from UMG boss Sir Lucian Grainge. "He is not only one of the most versatile and brilliant artists ever to grace us, but he is someone who over the course of a remarkable 50-plus year career, remained as relevant and productive until his final years.”

"Glen Campbell’s indelible contributions to music were forged through his extraordinary talents as a recording and performing artist and his incomparable skills as a musician and singer."
—Capitol Music Group head Steve Barnett

"Glen Campbell’s indelible contributions to music were forged through his extraordinary talents as a recording and performing artist and his incomparable skills as a musician and singer," says Capitol Music Group chief Steve Barnett. "As saddened as we are to hear the news of his passing, we are so grateful for the role he played in defining Capitol’s legacy throughout the decades. Glen will always remain gentle on our mind, and we send our thoughts and prayers to his family and loved ones during their time of loss."

"It is impossible to overstate the impact and influence Glen Campbell had on popular culture and music history," says Bruce Resnikoff, whose UMe oversees Campbell's now-exploding catalog. "As a singer, songwriter, guitar player and performer, he was second to none—and the music world has lost one of its all-time greats."

Recording Academy head Neil Portnow issued the following statement:

"Six-time Grammy winner Glen Campbell was, and always will be, an American treasure. In a career spanning more than six decades, Glen contributed to countless hits as part of the renowned group of session musicians known as the Wrecking Crew. As an artist, his remarkable voice, top-level guitar work, and dazzling showmanship shot him to superstardom in the 1960s, and he became one of the most successful pop/country crossover artists of all time. Glen received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Recording Academy in 2012, our formal acknowledgment of his immense contributions to music and culture and we’ll always cherish his historic appearance at the 54th Annual Grammy Awards in 2012, one of his last performances. We have lost an icon who will be greatly missed, but Glen’s musical gifts will live on forever."

"We have lost an icon who will be greatly missed, but Glen’s musical gifts will live on forever." —Recording Academy head Neil Portnow

"Everyone at the Big Machine Label Group is deeply saddened to learn of the passing of our friend Glen Campbell," reads a statement from BMLG chief Scott Borchetta. "Glen was a superstar of the highest order and a multi-threat talent as a singer, entertainer, world-class guitar virtuoso, actor and, of course, a great family man. Glen and his family so bravely chose to publicly share their fight with Alzheimer’s through the James Keach-produced I'LL BE ME documentary which helped engage millions of people who face the realities of this terrible disease. We were honored to release his final recordings on the Grammy-winning and Oscar-nominated I'LL BE ME soundtrack, produced by our very own Julian Raymond. Even in his final act, Glen's star touched so many."  

"Well Glen Campbell was special because he was so gifted," explained Dolly Parton. "Glen is one of the greatest voices that ever was in the business, and he was one of the greatest musicians. He was a wonderful session musician as well. A lot of people don’t realize that, but he could play anything. And he could play it really well. So he was just extremely talented. I will always love you, Glen!"

"It's always tragic when you hear of a friend passing, but he had to be miserable that last few years of his life. At least he doesn't have to deal with that anymore," added Kenny Rogers. "We worked together a lot through the years. In fact, Glen played on almost all First Edition music. He played a dynamic riff on the guitar that was trend setting. I also shot a few of his album covers back in the day and, at the time, I never knew people were paid to do that, but a few weeks later I received a check in the mail that was unexpected and highly received. I'll never forget that. He was a good friend and it breaks my heart that he's not here to contribute to music anymore."

"Glen Campbell was such a huge influence on me. Growing up, I studied his writing, songs and how he was an 'entertainer's entertainer,'" remembered Billy Ray Cyrus. "Along with Johnny Cash, Dolly Parton and Porter Wagoner, Glen Campbell was one of the first to parlay country music into mainstream television and broaden the entire country music fan base across the globe. Ride on Rhinestone Cowboy. God Bless."

"Sorry to hear about my good friend Glen," shared Roy Clark. "The loss is too big to put into words. He was an incredible voice, incredible musician, incredible friend, movie star and recording artist. We had so much fun together, and sort of grew up together in our music and our careers. There were so many memories that only he and I shared. Glen and I were brothers in every sense of the word. When I hear or see his name, I see the Glen I've always known. There will never, ever be another Glen Campbell."

And as Justin Moore simply puts it, “As a musician, he was a hero. As an Arkansan, he was a hero. RIP Glen.”