Country singer Glen Campbell passes away at age 81

Campbell struggled with Alzheimer’s disease recently

NASHVILLE – Country music legend Glen Campbell, who had been struggling with Alzheimer’s disease, passed away surrounded by his family on August 8. He was 81.

His final studio album, Adiós, was released this summer, capping off an extraordinary career that has spanned more than five decades and 50 million albums sold. The album was released on CD, vinyl and digitally.

In a statement, the Alzheimer’s Association said Campbell and his family bravely revealed his Alzheimer’s diagnosis in 2011, and embarked on a final “Goodbye Tour” that was documented in the award-winning documentary I’ll Be Me. Since that time, Campbell and his family continued to advocate on behalf of the cause, including sharing their story on Capitol Hill and speaking out on behalf of the millions of families facing the disease.

“The Alzheimer’s Association extends sincere condolences to Glen Campbell’s family, friends and fans. Glen was a courageous advocate on behalf of Alzheimer’s, not only bravely sharing his diagnosis with the world, but continuing to bring joy to his fans through his music while facing the disease so publicly,” said Harry Johns, president and CEO, Alzheimer’s Association. “Glen and his family helped to bring Alzheimer’s out of the shadows and into the spotlight with openness and honesty that has rallied people to take action on behalf of the cause. In this spirit, we will continue to work aggressively to pursue greater awareness, provide support to families, and accelerate research to slow, stop and ultimately cure Alzheimer’s disease.”

Alzheimer’s disease is currently the sixth leading cause of death in the United States, and the only cause among the top ten that cannot be prevented, cured or slowed. An estimated 5.5 million Americans are currently living with Alzheimer’s disease, with more than 15 million friends and family providing unpaid care. These numbers will escalate rapidly in the coming years and by 2050, the number of people with Alzheimer’s disease may nearly triple.

Kim Campbell, Glen’s wife of 34 years, wrote, “A new Glen Campbell album coming out in 2017 might seem a bit odd since he hasn’t performed since 2012, and even more odd – if not absolutely amazing – when you consider that he has Alzheimer’s disease. Glen’s abilities to play, sing and remember songs began to rapidly decline after his diagnosis in 2011. A feeling of urgency grew to get him into the studio one last time to capture what magic was left. It was now or never.

“What you’re hearing when listening to Adiós is the beautiful and loving culmination of friends and family doing their very best for the man who inspired, raised, and entertained them for decades – giving him the chance to say one last goodbye to his fans, and put one last amazing collection of songs onto the record store shelves.”

For Campbell’s final recording session, he turned to Glen’s longtime banjo player and family friend Carl Jackson to helm the production and play guitar. In preparation for the recording, Jackson, who joined Campbell’s band in the early ‘70s as an 18-year-old banjo player, laid down some basic tracks and vocals for Campbell to study and practice. Jackson encouraged him every step of the way and although Campbell struggled at times because of his progressing dementia, he was clearly happy about being in the studio.

The 12-track collection features songs that Campbell always loved but never got a chance to record, including several from Jimmy Webb, his longtime collaborator behind some of his biggest hits like Wichita Lineman, By The Time I Get To Phoenix and Galveston. In addition to the title track, Adiós, first popularized by Linda Ronstadt, Campbell also sings Webb’s longing love song Just Like Always and It Won’t Bring Her Back. He revisits Postcard From Paris with his sons Cal and Shannon and daughter Ashley singing the line, “I wish you were here,” resulting in a powerful and heartfelt message of a family singing together one last time.

Other songwriters featured include Roger Miller with Am I All Alone (Or Is It Only Me), which begins with a home recording of Miller singing the tune at a guitar pull before going into Campbell’s rendition with Vince Gill on harmonies, Dickey Lee’s She Thinks I Still Care and Jerry Reed’s Johnny Cash hit A Thing Called Love. Willie Nelson joins his old pal for a duet of Nelson’s Funny How Time Slips Away while Jackson tells Campbell’s life story in Arkansas Farmboy.

“I wrote Arkansas Farmboy sometime in the mid- to late-’70s on a plane bound for one of the many overseas destinations I played with Glen between 1972 and 1984,” said Jackson. “The song was inspired by a story that Glen told me about his grandpa teaching him In The Pines on a $5 Sears & Roebuck guitar when he was only a boy. That guitar led to worldwide fame and fortune, far beyond what even some in his family could comprehend.”

In a legendary career that spanned more than five decades, Glen Campbell created an indelible mark as a musician, singer, movie star and television personality. From his time as a guitarist for Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra, The Beach Boys and many others in the archetypical backing band The Wrecking Crew to his decades atop the charts, there are few artists who have touched as many lives as the Rhinestone Cowboy.

Born in 1936 as the 12th child and seventh son of a dirt poor sharecropper, Campbell rose from his humble beginnings in rural Delight, Arkansas to become one of the best-selling solo male artists in U.S. chart history. He released more than 70 albums, selling 50 million copies with more than 80 songs charting. He achieved 21 Top 40 hits, including two No. 1’s; 27 Top 10 Country singles, six Top 20 albums, including the double-platinum classic, Wichita Lineman, and nine No. 1 country albums.

A six-time Grammy winner, Campbell was an instant television success with his variety series, The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour. Seen in millions of homes for four seasons, Campbell became a household name. The show’s broadcasts in Great Britain, Australia and Singapore introduced him to an even wider audience and catapulted him to worldwide fame. Campbell also moved into the world of film as the handpicked co-star of John Wayne in the movie True Grit. His song for the soundtrack was nominated for an Academy Award and he was nominated for Most Promising Newcomer at the Golden Globes.

Campbell later became a touring member of the Beach Boys for a stretch when Brian Wilson first retired from the road in 1964. Alongside musicians like Leon Russell, Carol Kaye and drummers Hal Blaine and Earl Palmer, Campbell played on 586 sessions in 1963 alone. His memorable guitar parts can be heard throughout the Beach Boys’ landmark Pet Sounds album, Frank Sinatra’s Strangers in the Night, the Righteous Brothers’ You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling and the Monkees’ I’m a Believer, not to mention hits by Elvis Presley, Bobby Darin, Lou Rawls, Ricky Nelson, Merle Haggard and Bobby Vee.

Three albums by Campbell, Gentle on My Mind, Wichita Lineman and Galveston, were reissued on vinyl this year.

Gentle on My Mind, released in 1967 on Capitol Records, was Campbell’s breakthrough album. It was the first to go to No. 1 on the country music charts and reach the platinum sales mark of one million albums sold. At its heart was the single, Gentle on My Mind, a cover of John Hartford’s original that so enchanted Campbell, he called in some of his buddies from his legendary studio band, The Wrecking Crew (which included Leon Russell), and recorded it himself to submit to his producer Al De Lory. His first major hit, the song earned him his first two Grammy Awards and made the Arkansas native a rising star.

Wichita Lineman remains Campbell’s best-selling album. The double-platinum release reached No. 1 on the Billboard 200 and stayed there for a month, bracketed by Jimi Hendrix’s Electric Ladyland and only unseated by The Beatles (The White Album). Wichita Lineman stayed atop the country music charts for 20 weeks and was the year’s top release in the genre.

Campbell teamed up with Jimmy Webb again for two hits on his next album, Galveston, released in 1969. The title track returned to No. 1 and was a crossover hit. The duo logged another minor hit with the follow up single, Where’s the Playground Susie.

Gentle on My Mind track listing

Side A

  1. Gentle on My Mind
  2. Catch the Wind
  3. It’s Over
  4. Bowling Green
  5. Just Another Man
  6. You’re My World

Side B

  1. The World I Used to Know
  2. Without Her
  3. Mary in the Morning
  4. Love Me As If There Were No Tomorrow
  5. Cryin’

Wichita Lineman track listing

Side A

  1. Wichita Lineman
  2. (Sittin’ on) The Dock of the Bay
  3. If You Go Away
  4. Ann
  5. Words
  6. Fate of Man

Side B

1.Dreams of the Everyday Housewife

  1. The Straight Life
  2. Reason to Believe
  3. You Better Sit Down Kids
  4. That’s Not Home

Galveston track listing

Side A

  1. Galveston
  2. Take My Hand for a While
  3. If This is Love
  4. Today
  5. Got to Have Tenderness
  6. Friends

Side B

  1. Where’s the Playground Susie
  2. Time
  3. Until It’s Time for You to Go
  4. Oh What a Woman
  5. Every Time I Itch I End Up Scratchin’ You