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Published: 2017/08/08

Glen Campbell Passes Away at 81

Legendary country singer and guitarist Glen Campbell, best known for his hits like “Wichita Lineman” and “Rhinestone Cowboy,” among others, has died at the age of 81. A representative from Campbell’s record label Universal Music Group confirmed the news to Rolling Stone earlier today.

Campbell was born in 1936, growing up in Arkansas as one of 12 children in a cotton sharecropping family. Early on, Campbell’s father bought his a $5 guitar and made him a makeshift guitar capo out of a corncob, something that would influence his music for years to come. His early introduction to music was through the family radio. “It was a battery radio,” Campbell said in a Relix interview with Yo La Tengo’s Ira Kaplan in 2011. “If it went out, that was it. Daddy didn’t buy another one.”

Campbell eventually moved to Wyoming and began playing gigs, then changed location again to Los Angeles and in the early 1960s was a part of the famed group of studio musicians known as the Wrecking Crew, which also featured Hal Blaine, Carol Kaye and Leon Russell, among others. Campbell played on classic cuts like the Byrds’ “Mr. Tambourine Man.”

The guitarist later filled in for Brian Wilson in the Beach Boys live show. By the late 1960s, Campbell began to have hits of his own with songs like “By the Time I Get To Phoenix,” “Wichita Lineman” and “Gentle on My Mind.” A guest-hosting spot on the Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour led to his own Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour, which in turn helped him land a role in John Wayne’s True Grit. After some lean years, Campbell returned with the hit “Rhinestone Cowboy” in 1975.

A career that lasted half a century and included more than 70 albums and 45 million records sold culminated in Campbell’s induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2005. Six years later, Campbell revealed his Alzheimer’s disease diagnosis and subsequently released his last album of original music and embarked on a farewell tour. This year, Campbell released an album of mostly cover songs, Adiós, the final record of his career.

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