Wednesday, August 09, 2017

'Rhinestone Cowboy' singer Glen Campbell dies at 81 after public battle with Alzheimer's disease

Wikipedia photo
Grammy-winning Country Music Hall of Fame singer Glen Campbell, who rose from his rural roots to sell more than 45 million records, died Aug. 8 from complications related to Alzheimer's disease at the age of 81. "Campbell was a rare breed in the music business, with various careers as a top-level studio guitarist, chart-topping singer and hit television host," Patrick Doyle writes for Rolling Stone.

Campbell was born in Delight, Ark. in 1936, only 30 miles away and 10 years before another famous local, Bill Clinton. "Glen Campbell was an iconic American artist," Clinton said. "His legacy will be his great talent & how he decided to live with Alzheimer's." One of 12 children of sharecropping parents, he never forgot his roots and was known for his "country-fried quips," Adam Bernstein writes for The Washington Post. When asked about his quick rise to fame, Campbell said, "I been busier than a three-headed woodpecker!"

The self-taught singer and guitarist behind such Top 40 hits as "Wichita Lineman" and "Rhinestone Cowboy" started out as a studio musician in the early 1960s, playing rhythm guitar on more than 500 records of all genres. He got a taste of stardom when he filled in for Brian Wilson with the Beach Boys in 1964-1965, and hit the spotlight as a solo singer in 1967 with a slew of Grammies for singing John Hartford's "Gentle on My Mind." He branched out to television with a variety show, "The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour" and dabbled with acting, in the John Wayne movie "True Grit." But his music and the clean-cut image that went with it were his main draws, even when his real life was at odds with that image. Campbell struggled with cocaine and alcohol addictions, was married four times, and was involved in a tumultuous relationship with singer Tanya Tucker, who was 22 years younger.

In 2008 Campbell earned fans from a new generation with "Meet Glen Campbell," "a recording session that included covers of songs by such disparate rock bands as Green Day, U2 and the Velvet Underground," Bernstein writes. "He followed with the well-received “Ghost on the Canvas” in 2011, featuring admirers such as Smashing Pumpkins guitarist Billy Corgan and Cheap Trick guitarist Rick Nielsen."

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