An American Original: Glen Campbell April 22, 1936-August 8, 2017
- Music Fans received some sad news, yesterday.
From Glen Campbell’s Official FB Page:
“It is with the heaviest of hearts that we announce the passing of our beloved husband, father, grandfather, and legendary singer and guitarist, Glen Travis Campbell, at the age of 81, following his long and courageous battle with Alzheimer’s disease.
Glen is survived by his wife, Kim Campbell of Nashville, TN; their three children, Cal, Shannon and Ashley; his children from previous marriages, Debby, Kelli, Travis, Kane, and Dillon; ten… grandchildren, great- and great-great-grandchildren; sisters Barbara, Sandra, and Jane; and brothers John Wallace “Shorty” and Gerald.
In lieu of flowers, donations for Alzheimer’s research may be made to the Glen Campbell Memorial Fund at BrightFocus Foundation through the donation page at Careliving.org.”
This special post is dedicated to the man from Delight, Arkansas.
No American accomplished more or proved to be a more versatile and integral part of our country’s music industry than Glen Campbell.
He was born Glen Travis Campbell on April 22, 1936, on his family’s farm in Billstown, Arkansas. Campbell was one of 12 children, the son of Wesley, a sharecropper, and Carrie Dell,. The impoverished family all worked, picking cotton, when they weren’t picking musical instruments.
When he turned four, his father bought Glen a $5 Sears and Roebuck guitar and within a few years, Campbell was appearing as a paid act and performing guest spots on local radio stations.
At the age of 16, Campbell dropped out of high school and left to seek his fame and fortune out West, where he played with bands in Wyoming’s bars and roadhouses.
In 1961 at the age of 24, Campbell relocated to Los Angeles. Taking a job at the American Music Company, a small publishing house that employed a staff of songwriters, Campbell wrote and recorded the single Turn Around, Look at Me. The record had a little success, but, more importantly, it caught the attention of Capitol Records, who signed him to a contract.
Glen quickly became known as a skilled session guitarist and finger-picker and went on to work as a sideman with artists including Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra, Merle Haggard, Dean Martin, Nat King Cole, the Righteous Brothers, and the Monkees. Hot producers Phil Spector and Jimmy Bowen also regularly tapped Campbell for their recordings.
In 1965, after Brian Wilson’s retirement, Campbell was invited to tour with The Beach Boys as a temporary bassist. In 1967, he recorded the song Gentle on My Mind, and his career as a solo artist kicked into high gear. His next single By the time I Get to Phoenix also made the Top 40 and earned a Grammy Award for Best Pop Vocal Performance. That same year, his song, Gentle on My Mind, earned the Grammy for Best Country and Western Recording.
Campbell’s career was on fire, as the Country Music Association honored him as the Entertainer of the Year and, in 1968, Campbell released his biggest hits to date: Wichita Lineman and Galveston.
Then, in 1968, Campbell appeared on The Joey Bishop Show. The Smothers Brothers saw the program and liked what they saw so much that they gave him with the opportunity to co-host The Summer Smothers Brothers Show. Campbell’s down-to-earth personality and musical skill impressed CBS executives, and thus was born, in 1969, The Glen Campbell Good Time Hour. The program was a combination of musical acts, comedy segments, and nationally-known guest stars. The show, which was produced by The Smothers Brothers, became a No. 1 hit in the United States and the U.K., making Campbell an international star.
After conquering television, Campbell appeared in movies, playing a memorable role as an ill-fated Texas Ranger opposite John Wayne in 1969’s True Grit. Campbell proved to still have the magic touch in the 70s, as the overwhelming success of two No. 1 singles, Rhinestone Cowboy (1975) and Southern Nights (1977), further cemented Campbell’s status as a crossover success.
Then, in the late 1970s, while dating singer Tanya Tucker, Campbell’s abuse of cocaine and alcohol threatened to destroy his career. The couple’s wild and violent relationship, combined with his poor record sales, kept Campbell on the cover of the gossip magazines.
However, after touring for a few years in the 80s, and breaking up with Tanya, Glen left Los Angeles, successfully overcame his drug habit, and became a born-again Christian.
However, even born-again Christians falter. Campbell was arrested in Phoenix on drunk driving and hit-and-run charges in November 2003. He crashed into another car at an intersection, and left the scene of the accident. He went on to plead guilty to extreme DUI and leaving the scene of an accident, and was sentenced to 10 days in jail.
Campbell released a tell-all autobiography in 1994 by the appropriate title of Rhinestone Cowboy. In 2005, Campbell was rightfully inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame. After that, he continued to appear at theaters in Branson, Missouri. In 2008 he released an album of cover songs entitled Meet Glen Campbell.
In 2011, the following story appeared on people.com:
In his new song, “A Better Place,” Glen Campbell sings, “I need the ones I love Lord/More and more each day.”
The lyric is more personal than the world knows: In an exclusive interview with PEOPLE, Campbell, 75, and his wife, Kim, revealed that the singer has Alzheimer’s disease.
The couple have decided to go public with Glen’s diagnosis because he’s hoping to say farewell with a final slate of live performances this fall – and they want his fans to be aware of the musician’s condition.
“Glen is still an awesome guitar player and singer,” says Kim. “But if he flubs a lyric or gets confused on stage, I wouldn’t want people to think, ‘What’s the matter with him? Is he drunk?’ ”
The Grammy-winner, whose “Rhinestone Cowboy” topped the charts in 1975, had been suffering from short-term memory loss for years, but the Alzheimer’s diagnosis only came six months ago.
“I still love making music,” says Campbell. “And I still love performing for my fans. I’d like to thank them for sticking with me through thick and thin.”
In 2014, Glen’s wife, Kim, wrote the following opinion piece for Fox News, in conjunction with the release of his final album and a documentary, detailing Glen’s journey through the stages of Alzheimer’s Disease.
It touched my heart. I believe it will touch your heart as well.
My husband, Glen Campbell, has stage 6 Alzheimer’s disease. Seven months ago, at the recommendation of his doctors, we placed him in a memory care facility close to our home in Nashville.
It’s a community that’s designed specifically for the needs of those who have Alzheimer’s and dementia. They have all kinds of therapies and activities that stimulate parts of the brain affected by the illness. It’s a safe and secure environment where he receives around-the-clock care.
It’s been good for him. He just seems more at peace there than he was at home, where he became increasingly agitated and frantic.
He lives in a mental fog most of the time. He’s lost most of his language skills and has a hard time communicating. He still has moments of lucidity, though, and those moments let us know he’s still in there and that he’s the Glen we’ve always known. He can make short sentences and say things like “I love you” and “We are so blessed.”
The aides and nurses say he must have been a godly man because they always see him thanking the Lord. I’ve seen him walk over to the window and lift up his hands and say, “Thank you, heavenly Father.”
Those moments are so comforting because when you’re facing your mortality, that’s when you want to know God is there. That’s when you really want to draw close to Him.
When I see him do that, I know God is with him, and he’s aware of His presence. He’s relying on the Lord and gets his strength from Him.
People should not give up on others who have dementia. The essence of who they are is still alive and still in there.
He’s still the Glen Campbell he’s always been. He’s always especially loved children and old people. There’s this little lady in a wheelchair in the facility, and she can’t speak at all. He will walk over to her and take her little hand in his and say, “You are so precious.”
He’ll kiss her on the forehead, and she’ll just look up at him. She has no idea who he is, but you can tell it comforts her.
Even in his affliction, he’s ministering to people and trying to be a blessing.
In between those moments, he’s lost. He wanders. He can’t communicate. He doesn’t understand what others say to him. It’s very hard to direct him even to sit in a chair in the dining room.
When we did the film, “Glen Campbell… I’ll Be Me,” which documents his last farewell tour, Glen was in stages 2-4. He knew what was happening to him and he wanted to let people know what Alzheimer’s is really like.
He was passionate about making this film because he hoped it would be a catalyst for more funding for research to find a cure. He wanted to encourage other families who are dealing with this disease to keep living their lives, supporting each other and lifting each other up.
When Glen got the diagnosis and decided to go public, it was because he wanted fans to know what was going on in case he exhibited odd behavior on stage, like repeating a song or forgetting what key it was in.
He just wanted them to understand. But after he made the announcement, we all wondered if anyone would want to come see someone with Alzheimer’s perform.
We wondered if his fans would rather remember him the way he was. Maybe it would be depressing. Or maybe no one would be interested either way.
But what we found was the exact opposite. The first show he did after making the announcement sold out. From the time he walked on stage to the time he walked off, it was one standing ovation after another. It was clear fans were there to shower him with love and to root for, support and encourage him. It really blessed Glen and encouraged him to continue on.
Offers began to pour in from around the country for Glen to come to their cities to perform.
What began as a five-week farewell tour turned into 151 dates. His last show was at the Uptown Theater in Napa, Calif., on Nov. 30, 2012.
The first 15-20 minutes were a train wreck. He was having difficulties. His guitar wasn’t loud enough. It didn’t have the quality he wanted. He became very agitated on stage. He kept turning his back to the audience. His band was very uncomfortable. It was a tough show.
But the audience, again, was so supportive. They cheered for him without fail and without question. They loved him unconditionally.
He snapped back and finished the show strong. It was good, but it was clear it was time for us to end the tour and say farewell.
He closed the show with “A Better Place.”
Daily we pray for grace and mercy as he approaches the final stages of this illness and are so thankful for the moments we see Glen being Glen.
If the final worth of our lives is measured by the lives we touched then Glen Campbell passed away a very rich man.
God bless and Godspeed, sir.
Until He Comes,