ENTERTAINMENT

Glen Campbell, The 'Rhinestone Cowboy,' Dead At 81

The country music legend soared with songs like "Gentle On My Mind."

09/08/2017 6:38 AM AEST | Updated 10/08/2017 1:37 AM AEST

There’s been a lot of compromisin’ on the road to Glen Campbell’s horizon, but he’s gonna be where the lights are shinin’ on him.

Glen Campbell, the beloved “Rhinestone Cowboy,” international TV star and country music singer-songwriter, died on Tuesday after a long battle with Alzheimer’s disease, his rep confirmed to HuffPost. He was 81. 

A statement posted to his website read: 

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 can be made to the Glen Campbell Memorial Fund at BrightFocus Foundation through the CareLiving.org donation page.

A personal statement from Kim Campbell will follow.

The family appreciates your prayers and respect for their privacy at this time.

Campbell’s life of triumphs and tragedies began with his early success in the music industry. The Arkansas native left the country for the city of Los Angeles at the age of 22 after forming his own band, Glenn Campbell and the Wranglers. In 1961 at 24 years old, he wrote “Turn Around, Look at Me,” which garnered some acclaim and led to his first big shot with Capitol Records.

Eight years later, Campbell was collaborating with some of the greats, and his connections in the music industry got him his own variety show, “The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour,” which premiered on CBS in 1969. It was an immediate international hit; Campbell was nominated for three Emmy awards before it was canceled in 1972. After the show’s run, he toured with Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings and others, according to The Boot.

He’s sold about 50 million records and had 27 Top 10 hits, including “Rhinestone Cowboy,” released in 1975. He was nominated for 21 Grammy awards and won 10, including for “Gentle On My Mind,” “By the Time I Get to Phoenix” and “Wichita Lineman.” He also won 10 Academy of Country Music awards, including the ACM Honors lifetime achievement prize in 2016.

Despite his success, the 1970s weren’t easy on Campbell. He battled cocaine addiction and alcoholism, and saw his second and third marriages fail. He would spiral for almost 10 years. In his 1994 autobiography, Rhinestone Cowboy, he recalled being eager to finish shows so he could start partying.

His infamous relationships, including an on-again, off-again bond with Tanya Tucker, are chronicled to this day. The Chicago Tribune reported in 2015:

“I regret a lot of things,” Tucker, 58, said. “I broke up with him and he came back and wanted to fix things up, but I was too cocky. I wanted him to try a little harder. One more time would’ve worked, you know?”

Before they could reconcile, Tucker told the Tribune, one of Campbell’s band members set him up with his current wife, Kim Campbell (formerly, Woollen). “I think he was just on the rebound, in my opinion. She don’t like me, but I have nothing against her. I appreciate her taking care of him all these years, because I know he’s a handful.”

In the early 1980s, Campbell overcame his cocaine addiction and became a born-again Christian. His trajectory soared until he revealed that he’d been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2011. He acknowledged that his memory was failing him and announced his final tour in 2013, before he retreated to seclusion with his family.

By 2015, he was barely able to speak and could no longer play music. He was living in a memory-care facility in Nashville.

“He still has the same essence. He still has the same twinkle in his eye. He has the same chuckle, and he’s still an entertainer,” Kim, whom he married in 1982, told People magazine in 2015.

Correction: Glen Campbell never toured with The Beatles, as previously stated in this article. 

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