Country music legend Glenn Campbell, who not only enjoyed huge crossover success in the ’60s and’ 70s but also established himself as a formidable session musician prior to that, died on Tuesday August 8 aged 81.
Campbell announced that he had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2011 and embarked on a farewell tour. Unfortunately, dates in Australia had to be cancelled due to his illness.
Campbell’s hits included many penned by Jimmy Webb such as ‘Galveston,’ ‘Where’s The Playground Suzie?’ and ‘By the Time I Get to Phoenix’ as well as others such as ‘Gentle On My Mind’ and ‘Rhinestone Cowboy.’ Campbell sold more than 45 million records in his career and topped the country singles chart 12 times.
Campbell’s final studio album, Adios, also featured a number of Webb compositions including the title track.
Webb played a concert earlier this year at Carnegie Hall in New York to raise money for Alzheimer’s charities and Campbell’s trust.
“People say, “Well don’t you feel like you were responsible for his success?” I just laugh,” recalled Webb in our ATN interview last month. “I can’t imagine anything further from the truth. I think that he was responsible for a lot of my success, and he was a proponent of mine and an advertiser of my merits and passed my songs along to other people including Highwayman, which he took down to Nashville and played for Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, Kris Kristofferson and Johnny Cash and they had a big hit with that.”
Campbell arrived in Los Angeles as a teenager and quickly became an in-demand session guitarist playing with the legendary Wrecking Crew on sessions for Nat ‘King’ Cole, Frank Sinatra, the Monkees, Merle Haggard and Elvis Presley. In 1965 Campbell also became a touring member of the Beach Boys — playing bass for Brian Wilson — as well as contributing guitar to the legendary Pet Sounds album.
Campbell enjoyed his first hit in 1967 with a version of John Hartford’s ‘Gentle on My Mind.’ The subsequent album reached No. 5 on the pop charts.
Jimmy Webb’s ‘By the Time I Get to Phoenix,’ the follow-up single reached No. 2 on the country chart and Campbell won four Grammys for the two songs at the 1967 awards — two in country categories, the other two in pop categories. Campbell then clocked up seven consecutive country No.1 albums.
Campbell hosted his own TV variety show in 1969 and acted in a number of films and presented TV specials.Campbell also caused headlines for some of his ‘off-field’ behaviour and divorces.
Campbell is survived by wife Kimberley and eight children, three of whom played in his backing band during his final farewell tour.