Just two months after releasing his 64th studio album entitled Adiós, it’s the world who now has to bid farewell to Glen Campbell.
A true titan of the fast-changing music industry, Campbell, who passed away on August 8, 2017, was a bonafide crossover sensation who released over 70 albums over the span of his career, appeared on television and in motion pictures, and played a mean guitar to boot. He was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2011 and spent his final years publicly and courageously battling the disease.
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Campbell began his prolific career in Los Angeles as a session musician, finding himself among a group of first-call studio musicians later dubbed “The Wrecking Crew.” He was a touring member of the Beach Boys and had a string of collaborative projects even before he began to see true mainstream success as a solo artist.
He began releasing solo albums in the early 1960s. His first wave of hits were songs written by Jimmy Webb, such as “Wichita Lineman,” “By the Time I Get to Phoenix,” and “Galveston.” In addition to his musical relationship with Webb, Campbell collaborated on songwriting and recordings with such musicians as Anne Murray, Bobbie Gentry, Emmylou Harris, Tanya Tucker, and many others.
Campbell was also a television star, hosting two of his own programs: The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour from 1969-1972 and The Glen Campbell Music Show from 1982-1983. He made many appearances on television as a singer and guitarist and was even the celebrity host of a branch of the PGA Tour for over a decade. His years as a session player allowed him to maintain a consistent roster of distinguished musical guests, and he would go on to make many more television appearances after his own shows were canceled.
In 1975, he released his biggest-ever hit, “Rhinestone Cowboy.” Capitalizing on the song’s instant success, he released two more singles during the same album period, “Southern Nights” and “Sunflower.”
He continued to release albums throughout the remainder of his life, even after the announcement of his disease. His farewell tour was subject of an incredibly heartwarming documentary, Glen Campbell: I’ll Be Me, which focuses on his struggles with Alzheimer’s while on the road and his innate ability to continue performing his songs despite the grave memory loss.
Rather than shy away from the public, Campbell extended his hand to his fans in an effort to heal. To remove the stigma of his sickness, he asked that audiences forgive him for any forgotten lyrics or erratic behavior. His final album, Adiós, was released on June 9, 2017.
If, after all this, you’re still like, yeah but country-pop music just ain’t my thing, well, Campbell also had pretty gnarly guitar chops. It goes without saying that some of his greatest hits featured subdued playing, but his talent was no short of extraordinary. Here are a few choice moments from across his career.
Adiós, Glen. You’ll be missed.