Glen Campbell, the affable superstar singer of “Rhinestone Cowboy” and “Wichita Lineman” whose appeal spanned country, pop, television and movies, died Tuesday at the age of 81, his family said. Campbell’s family said the singer died Tuesday morning in Nashville and publicist Sandy Brokaw confirmed the news. No cause was immediately given. Campbell announced in June 2011 that he had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and that it was in its early stages at that time.
“Glen is one of the greatest voices there ever was in the business and he was one of the greatest musicians,” said Dolly Parton in a video statement. “He was a wonderful session musician as well. A lot of people don’t realize that. But he could play anything and he could play it really well.” Tributes poured in on social media. “Thank you Glen Campbell for sharing your talent with us for so many years May you rest in peace my friend You will never be forgotten,” wrote Charlie Daniels. One of Campbell’s daughters, Ashley, said she was heartbroken. “I owe him everything I am, and everything I ever will be. He will be remembered so well and with so much love,” she wrote on Twitter. “You were a shining light in so many ways,” Brad Paisley tweeted. In the late 1960s and well into the ’70s, the Arkansas native was seemingly everywhere with his boyish face, wavy hair and friendly tenor. He won five Grammys, sold more than 45 million records, had 12 gold albums and 75 chart hits, including No. 1 songs with “Rhinestone Cowboy” and “Southern Nights.” His performance of the title song from the 1969 film “True Grit,” in which he played a Texas Ranger alongside Oscar winner John Wayne, received an Academy Award nomination. He twice won album of the year awards from the Academy of Country Music and was voted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2005. Seven years later, he received a Grammy for lifetime achievement.
His last record was “Adios,” released in June, featured songs that Campbell loved to sing but never recorded, including tunes made famous by Bob Dylan, Linda Ronstadt and Johnny Cash. Ashley Campbell, also a musician, made a quest appearance and said making the album was “therapeutic.” Campbell was among a wave of country crossover stars that included Johnny Cash, Roy Clark and Kenny Rogers, and like many of his contemporaries, he enjoyed success on television. Campbell had a weekly audience of some 50 million people for the “Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour,” on CBS from 1969 to 1972. He gained new fans decades later when the show, featuring his cheerful greeting “Hi I’m Glen Campbell,” was rerun on cable channel CMT.