Rhine­stone cow­boy dies


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 Tues­day, his fam­ily said. He was 81.

Camp­bell’s fam­ily said the singer died Tues­day morn­ing 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 Alzheimer’s dis­ease.

In the late 1960s and well into the ’70s, 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. Coun­try singer Glen Camp­bell has died at 81.

His per­for­mance of the ti­tle song from True Grit, a 1969 re­lease in which he played a Texas Ranger along­side Os­car-win­ner John Wayne, re­ceived an Academy Award nom­i­na­tion. He twice won al­bum of the year awards 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 tele­vi­sion. Camp­bell had a weekly au­di­ence of some 50 mil­lion peo­ple for the Glen Camp­bell Good­time Hour, on CBS from 1969 to 1972.

“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, and in the 1990s recorded a se­ries of gospel CDs. 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 some­how con­tin­ued to shine as his mind un­rav­eled.

A share­crop­per’s son, and one of 12 chil­dren, he was born out­side of De­light, Arkansas, and grew up rever­ing coun­try mu­sic stars such as Hank Wil­liams.

“I’m not a coun­try singer per se,” Camp­bell once said. “I’m a coun­try boy who sings.”

He was mar­ried four times and had eight chil­dren. As he would con­fide in painful de­tail, Camp­bell suf­fered for his fame and made oth­ers suf­fer as well. He drank heav­ily, used drugs and in­dulged in a tur­bu­lent re­la­tion­ship with coun­try singer Tanya Tucker in the early 1980s.

Among Camp­bell’s own hits, Rhine­stone Cow­boy stood out and be­came his per­sonal an­them.

“I thought it was my au­to­bi­og­ra­phy set to song,” he wrote 20 years later, in his au­to­bi­og­ra­phy, ti­tled Rhine­stone Cow­boy.

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