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#ThrowbackThursday: Remembering Glen Campbell

Glen Campbell- Image via Wikipedia

By Sean Smith

The music industry lost one of its biggest legends this week with the passing of Glen Campbell. The “Rhinestone Cowboy” singer passed away on Tuesday in Nashville after a long battle with Alzheimer’s disease. He was 81.

In June 2011, Glen Campbell sat down for an interview with People to announce that he had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease around the start of that year. At the same time, Campbell announced that he was setting out on a farewell tour. That tour was originally slated to run for about a month. However, the popularity of the show turned it into a final run that lasted for over a year.

Related Media:

Glen Campbell Interview 2011:

Discusses Battle With Alzheimer’s Disease, Final Tour and New Album

ABC News

Anyone that has had the unfortunate circumstance of witnessing someone close to them diagnosed with Alzheimer’s can speak to the hellish progression of the disease. The paranoia and fear, the loss of living in reality and the way they can no longer recognize even their closest friends and family are heartbreaking to witness. In March 2016, Rolling Stone reported that Campbell was in the late stages of his battle with the disease, yet his family said that he was receiving wonderful care and that he was both “happy” and “cheerful.” We hope that Campbell was able to maintain that state of mind throughout the final 17 months of his life.Glen Campbell was born in Billstown, Arkansas, in 1936. He was born the seventh son in a family of 12. His father was a sharecropper. Campbell picked up a guitar for the first time in his life at the age of four, a miniature guitar that his father had bought for him. He credited his uncle for teaching him how to play, a skill he would soon put into practice. He dropped out of school at 14 and moved west, playing in a band with his uncle.

By the early 1960’s, Campbell had made his way out to Los Angeles and became an accomplished session musician. In the year of 1963 alone, he wrote in his autobiography that he played on 586 published songs. He played for the likes of Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Nat King Cole, and the Beach Boys.

Glen Campbell caught a major break in 1964 when Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys took a break from the group.. Campbell filled in for Wilson during the band’s live shows until early 1965. In that same year, Campbell got his first solo recognition on the charts. His recording of “Universal Soldier” got to #45 on the charts.

However, Glen Campbell’s first major hit came two years later in 1967 when he released “By the Time I Get to Phoenix.” It reached number two on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart, and won two Grrammy Awards. In 1968 he released another of his big country hits with “Wichita Lineman.”

Glen Campbell

“By The Time I Get TO Phoenix”

Capitol Records

Glen Campbell

“Wichita Lineman.”

Capitol Records

Also in 1968, Glen Campbell took his first foray into television when he guest hosted the variety program The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour. That successful experience afforded Campbell the opportunity to host his own show on CBS, The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour, from 1969 to 1972. His connections in the music industry allowed him to book such popular musical acts as The Beatles, the Monkees and Johnny Cash to name just a few. He also starred in the 1969 feature film True Grit, alongside John Wayne.
The biggest crossover hits for Glen Campbell, from the country to the mainstream charts, came in the 1970s. A time in his life that he has trouble recalling, due to his heavy drinking and use of recreational drugs like cocaine, which were all too prevalent in the music industry during that period of time. Campbell had two songs go to number one on the mainstream charts in that decade.The first was “Rhinestone Cowboy” in 1975. The second was “Southern Nights” in 1977.

All in all, Glen Campbell has been and will always be remembered for his contributions to both country and pop music.  In 2012 he was awarded the prestigious Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, and just last year Campbell was recognized by the Academy of Country Music with their Career Achievement Award.

So with the somber news of Glen Campbell’s passing earlier this week, we take a moment to recall his life and many contributions to the music industry. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends during this difficult time.


Glen Campbell

“Rhinestone Cowboy”

Capitol Records

Glen Campbell

“Southern Nights”

Capitol Records