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.