Tuesday, August 8, 2017

R.I.P. Glen Campbell (1936-2017)

Glen Campbell
On August 8, 2017, singer Glen Campbell died at the age of 81 in Nashville, Tennessee from complications regarding Alzheimer's Disease. He was best known for writing country music, specifically the chart topping hits like "Wichita Lineman," "By the Time I Get to Phoenix," and his most popular hit "Rhinestone Cowboy." Over the course of a career spanning over 50 years, he hosted several variety shows that helped to raise awareness of up and coming stars in the country music field. He also received two Oscar nominations for his music, including the theme song for True Grit and his final recording "I'm Not Gonna Miss You" from his documentary Glen Campbell: I'll Be Me. He leaves behind an impressive body of work that'll get you toe-tapping and singing along in no time. He was a true artist with an even more impressive career that included 70 albums, selling 45 million copies, and 80 different songs on a Billboard Chart.

Campbell was born in Billstown, Arkansas on April 22, 1936. He was the seventh of 12 children. He began playing guitar when he was young and credits his Uncle Boo for teaching him how. At 18, he moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico to join his band, even appearing on his readio show, and later on K Circle B Time: a local children's program on KOB television. By 1958, he had started his own band. In 1960, he moved to Los Angeles to become a studio musician where he worked with The Champs and later The Wrecking Crew. Among the artists he worked with were: Bobby Darin, Ricky Nelson, Dean Martin, Nat King Cole, The Monkees, Nancy Sinatra, Merle Haggard, Jan and Dean, Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra, and Phil Spector. His first solo release was "Turn Around, Look at Me." By 1962, he signed onto Capitol Records where he experienced minor success with "Too Late to Worry, Too Blue to Cry."

During this time, he made regular appearances on variety shows such as Shindig! and Hollywood Jamboree. He also filled in for Brian Wilson when The Beach Boys went on tour between December 1964 and March 1965. He would have various appearances on both his own albums and other people's work throughout the rest of his career. In 1967, he had a great run of hits with songs like "Gentle on My Mind," "By the Time I Get to Phoenix," "I Wanna Live," and "Wichita Lineman." He would win four Grammys for the first two songs. In 1969, he received his first Oscar nomination for Best Original Song for the theme to the western film True Grit, of which was composed by Elmer Bernstein and had lyrics by Don Black. He also starred in alongside John Wayne and Kim Darby. 

During this time, he also hosted the first of many variety shows. In 1968, he starred in The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour, which features a lot of music notables, including The Beatles, The Monkees, Neil Diamond, Johnny Cash, and more. Among the show's honors was Campbell's ability to help launch the careers of Anne Murray and Jerry Reed, who were regulars on the show. While the show was over by 1972, he remained active on TV and even hosted the American Music Awards. Among his later achievements was hosting a radio show called The Glen Campbell Music Show. During the mid-70's, he also spawned his greatest hits with "Rhinestone Cowboy" and "Southern Nights." The former sold two million copies and continues to be used in movies and TV shows. It also inspired the 1984 film Rhinestone, starring Dolly Parton and Sylvester Stallone.

As he grew older, he continued to collaborate with different artists. Among the people he mentored was Alan Jackson and Keith Urban. In 2005, he was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame. However, he was diagnosed with Alzheimer's in early 2011 following his then-farewell album "Ghost on the Canvas." What followed was a farewell tour. His final performance was on November 30, 2012 in Napa, California. He was backed by a band that featured his family. His final recording, "I'm Not Gonna Miss You" ended up earning an Oscar nomination for Best Original Song for the documentary Glen Campbell: I'll Be Me. His final album, "Adios," was released two months before his passing. 

With an incredible career that featured several iconic songs, Campbell changed the face of music for the better. Even when he wasn't working on songs for himself, he was helping to elevate his peers by giving them catchy and powerful tunes that often improved their own career. Even for those who don't love country music, it's hard to ignore the power of songs like "Rhinestone Cowboy." He sang earnestly and with passion that showed in his work. He will be missed, though his music will continue to live on as an inspiration to us all.

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