Kristin M Hall
Glen Campbell, the grinning, high-pitched entertainer whose dozens of hit singles included ‘Rhinestone Cowboy’ and ‘Wichita Lineman’ and whose appeal spanned country, pop, television and movies, died yesterday, his family said. He was 81.
Campbell’s family said the singer died in Nashville and publicist Sandy Brokaw confirmed the news. No cause was immediately given. Campbell announced in June 2011 that he had been diagnosed with early-stage Alzheimer’s.
Campbell’s career dated back to the early years of rock ‘n’ roll. In the late 1960s and well into the 1970s, the Arkansas native seemed to be everywhere, known by his boyish face, wavy hair and friendly tenor. He won five Grammys, sold more than 45 million records, had 12 gold albums and 75 chart hits, including No. 1 songs with ‘Rhinestone Cowboy’ and ‘Southern Nights’.
His performance of the title song from ‘True Grit’, a 1969 release in which he played a Texas Ranger alongside John Wayne, received an Academy Award nomination. He twice won album of the year from the Academy of Country Music and was voted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2005. Seven years later, he received a Grammy for lifetime achievement.
He was among a wave of country crossover stars that included Johnny Cash, Roy Clark and Kenny Rogers, and like many of his contemporaries, he enjoyed success on TV. Campbell had a weekly audience of 50 million for the ‘Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour’, on CBS from 1969 to 1972. He gained new fans decades later when the show, featuring his cheerful greeting “Hi, I’m Glen Campbell”, was rerun.
“I did what my Dad told me to do – ‘Be nice, son, and don’t cuss. And be nice to people.’ And that’s the way I handled myself, and people were very, very nice to me,” Campbell told ‘The Telegraph’ in 2011.
He released more than 70 of his own albums. A 2011 farewell album, ‘Ghost On the Canvas’, included contributions from Jacob Dylan, Rick Nielsen of Cheap Trick and Billy Corgan of Smashing Pumpkins.
The documentary, ‘Glen Campbell … I’ll Be Me’, came out in 2014. The film about Campbell’s 2011-12 farewell tour offers a poignant look at his decline from Alzheimer’s while showcasing his virtuoso guitar chops that continued to shine. The song ‘I’m Not Gonna Miss You’ won a Grammy for best country song in 2015 and was nominated for an Oscar for best original song.