Legendary singer, musician and songwriter Glen Campbell has lost his battle with Alzheimer’s disease, his family revealed today in a statement posted on social media. He was 81.
“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 … following his long and courageous battle with Alzheimer’s disease,” the statement reads in part. Reaction was immediate and included a long list of musicians, celebrities and other well-knowns.
Campbell began playing guitar as a young child and by his mid’ 20s was playing with the Wrecking Crew, a group of celebrated and versatile Los Angeles-based recording session musicians. According to Rolling Stone, Campbell played on more 586 recordings in 1963 alone, and by the end of the decade was heard on recordings such as the Byrds’ “Mr. Tambourine Man,” Elvis Presley’s “Viva Las Vegas,” Merle Haggard’s “Mama Tried” and the Righteous Brothers’ “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling.” The late Leon Russell, also a member of the Wrecking Crew, called Campbell “the best guitar player I’d heard before or since,” according to the publication. “Occasionally we’d play with 50- or 60-piece orchestras. His deal was he didn’t read [music], so they would play it one time for him, and he had it.”
Campbell’s solo career had taken off by the late 1960s, resulting in hits like “By The Time I Get To Phoenix,” “Wichita Lineman,” “Galveston,” “Gentle On My Mind” and “Rhinestone Cowboy,” among others. He had his own TV show on CBS from 1969-72 with the Glen Campbell Good Time Hour, where a young Steve Martin had landed his first writing job. “RIP, Glen,” the comedian and fellow musician wrote on Twitter upon hearing the news. “You were my first employer as a writer. We were all in awe of your musicality.”
Campbell’s family is encouraging donations to Glen Campbell Memorial Fund at BrightFocus Foundation through CareLiving.org. Follow this story at Glen’s website here.
Teddy McDonald is a fun-lovin’ country music fan man living in Nashville, Tennessee.