Glen Campbell, the artist who brought us such classics as "Gentle on My Mind" and "Wichita Lineman," has passed away after struggling with Alzheimer's disease for several years. Campbell first announced his condition in June 2011, moving to a private care facility in Nashville in 2014.
Campbell rose in the pop charts with the Jimmy Webb-penned hit "Galveston," and then even further with his versions of Larry Weiss' "Rhinestone Cowboy" and Allen Toussaint's "Southern Nights." Known as a "successful country crossover artist," Campbell released more than 70 albums during his career. According to Hollywood Reporter, Campbell sold 45 million albums and earned 12 gold, 4 platinum, and one double-platinum album. He spent approximately half a century in the spotlight, accumulating around 5 Grammy Awards and 1968 album of the year.
“He had that beautiful tenor with a crystal-clear guitar sound, playing lines that were so inventive,” Tom Petty once told Rolling Stone magazine. “It moved me.”
Campbell partnered with Jimmy Webb in the 1960s, moving his fellow songwriter: “On certain songs, the magic is undeniable: ‘Wichita Lineman’ and ‘By the Time I Get to Phoenix’ … it’s almost as though the song was waiting for the singer and the singer was waiting for the song."
Campbell released the albums Ghost on the Canvas and See You There in 2012, with the former being heralded as "a museum-quality masterpiece" by USA Today. His final album, Adios, was released in June 2017.
“The overall theme and concept that I had was ‘back to the living room,’” Dave Kaplan, who produced Campbell's See You There album, told Rolling Stone. “This was just so much about his voice and about [putting] more of that spotlight back on the simple, singular greatness of his singing.”
Campbell's final performances were filled with fumbles and mishaps, but and family were patient and kind, guiding him through the stories they loved, the lyrics they had committed to memory, and the riffs they knew from hours of airplay.
“During the making of the film, Glen had a particularly bad day, and he said to me: ‘I wish everybody would quit talking about this Alzheimer’s thing. I don’t know what they’re making such a big deal about. It’s not like I’m going to miss anybody anyway,’” Julian Raymond told The Hollywood Reporter in February 2015. “So I thought, ‘I’m not going to miss you.’ It triggered something in me. It just takes that spark. Recording the song had to be very simple because of Glen’s condition. [I fed him the song] a couple of words at a time, holding a sign in front of him. It took four and a half?hours to get a two-and-a-half-minute song.”
Campbell inspired many with his musical genius and never-ending smile. He is survived by his wife, Kim Wollen, and his children Debby, Kelli, Travis, Kane, and Dillon.
The family has asked for donations to be made to the Glen Campbell Memorial Fund at BrightFocus Foundation.