Glen Travis Campbell
April 22, 1936 - August 8, 2017
By: The Staff at Strictly Country
and those who knew him best
He just sits there, watching the children play before him in all their innocence. Hidden somewhere deep within the recesses of his memory lies the memories of his own childhood, but he just can not access them.
He knows that his name is Glen, because that is what everyone who comes into his room calls him. But he just can not remember anything else. But, that’s alright, he thinks, because they do. They remember it all for him.
He was born Glen Travis Campbell in a small community called Billstown, that was located near Delight, Arkansas. The memories of the family farm have faded, nonetheless he was the seventh son of a sharecropper who had twelve children. Back in those days, life was hard. The family barely got by growing corn, cotton, watermelons and potatoes. Electricity was something rich folks had.
Most of the people who come into his room, come in to play music. In his consciousness he believes that he had something to do with music. He just can not recollect how or where. But, they remember for him.
At some point in time, about when he was four, his Uncle bought him a five-dollar guitar from a Sears-Roebuck catalog as a gift. Sure enough, by the time he was six he was performing on the local radio stations.
Unlike most children, he kept playing that old guitar well into his teens. With no formal training, he just listened to the radio and practice when he was not working in the cotton fields.
One person who came to visit him had brought his own guitar. The visitor had told him that he was a great guitarist, but he is not aware of that. The visitor handed him his guitar and asked him to play. With a little help, he was able to hold the instrument and nothing more. He just can not remember… but they do.
At the age of fourteen, Glen dropped out of school and began working alongside his brothers. But unskilled work is not that satisfying. Glen returned to his music as he began playing any where and nearly everywhere he could. Every once in a while, a memory of playing at fairs and church picnics pops into his mind. He does not recollect any of it, although some do.
In 1960, he moved to Los Angeles and became a session musician. Throughout his career he has worked with some of music’s most iconic entertainers like Ricky Nelson, Dean Martin, Nat King Cole, The Monkees, Nancy Sinatra, Merle Haggard, Frank Sinatra and even Elvis Presley. He even was a touring member of the Beach Boys, while filling in for Brian Wilson as he played the bass guitar and sang falsetto harmonies. He never learned to read music, but he was an accomplished guitarist and mastered the banjo, mandolin and bass guitar.
The fragile man who is sitting in a memory care facility in Nashville, can no longer remember all of the vast awards and accolades he achieved in his career. He no longer remembers the songs that made him a house hold name. Songs like “Universal Soldier,” “Gentle On My Mind,” “By the Time I Get To Phoenix,” “Wichita Lineman” and his signature hit “Rhinestone Cowboy.” When he doesn’t remember...they do.
His face, the one that many visitors come to see, has graced the television more times then he can count. He even starred on the big screen, next to John Wayne in the movie True Grit. When he didn’t remember those times...they did.
In June 2011, the news spread like wildfire when Glen Campbell announced that he had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. He can not remember making that statement...but they do.
Like any great entertainer, Glen took to the road for one final tour. Joining him on stage were three of his eight children in his backup band. The “Goodbye Tour” ended in Napa, California on November 30, 2012. A memory to many, but not to him.
The man who graced television screens world wide and the big screen made his final television appearance on February 12, 2012. The legendary musician performed his hit song, “Rhinestone Cowboy,” as a goodbye to his fans and music at the 2012 Grammy Awards ceremony. He doesn’t remember… but those who saw him, do.
Two years later, Campbell became a patient at an Alzheimer’s long-term care and treatment facility. On March 8, 2016, the country music world was devastated as word spread that Glen Campbell was now in the final stages of the disease and was living in a Nashville memory care facility.
Alzheimer’s is a disease that effects all of us in one way or another. Sure we could go into the statistics, but we would rather not. This disease can develop slow and is often misdiagnosed. Nonetheless, the memories of our loved ones fade until they can no longer remember the simple things like who we are. Eventually our loved ones forget the vital things like how to eat, swallow and breathe. Watching this progress is painful for us as we beg for some sort of medicine. With today’s technology and modern medicine, we regret to be informed that there is no treatment available to slow or even stop this progression. It take one second of one minute of one hour and the brain finally forgets to send the message to the rest of the body on how to live. No more breathing and no more beating heart…
“I’m just devastated. Absolutely devastated. It’s been so hard these past several years knowing what he’s been going through. My heart just breaks. Glen and I shared some incredible, precious memories together for a long time.” cries Tanya Tucker. “There were some ups and downs and, of course, all the downs were played out in the press. We both got past all that. Forgiveness is a wonderful thing. It’s why I’m releasing “Forever Loving You” in memory of Glen and for all of those who are losing or have lost someone they love. I’ll forever love you, Glen.”
“I don’t think there is any doubt that under the circumstances of his health the past several years, his passing was inevitable. But that doesn’t take away from it and the fact that he was one of the greatest in the business. Vocally and instrumentally there was no one like him and the music business is a better place because of him. I will always cherish the fact that he played on many of my recordings in the 60s.” shares Leroy Van Dyke. “I was proud to know him and to work with him. We sure will miss him.”
“I did my grieving for Glen when I first heard he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s because I knew we had lost the gift of his talent and his friendship. I’m glad he is not suffering any longer and I hope he is now at peace.” shares Jeannie Seely.
“I loved him and I am happy he is in a better place. My memories with Glen go back to my early teens. My dad brought home a Glen Campbell album, and from that time on I loved Glen Campbell. I was a huge fan. I was always in awe of him and he was one of the most talented people I have ever known.” tells Jimmy Fortune. “When I joined Statler Brothers in the early 80s I got to be on the ‘Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour’ with Jerry Reed and I could not believe it. He was always so nice and I admired the man and his talent. I will get to pay a small tribute to Glen with the song of his ‘Southern Nights,’ which I did on my latest album. What a loss. His presence will forever be missed.”
“I think probably, the sweetest time I had with Glen Campbell is when I would be with him, pitching songs to each other. Glen Campbell was one of the great song men I’ve ever met in my life. Glen taught me so much about the importance of finding great songs. When we worked together, which was many times, like in Branson, when we opened up the Palace Theatre. We opened it up together.” shares Duane Allen (The Oak Ridge Boys) “We would wind up on our bus, playing songs until one night we played so long that he just fell asleep. He just didn’t want to give it up, and he would wake up at the end of the song and say ‘Play another one.’ I’d say, ‘don’t you think we need to go to sleep?’ He’d say ‘Yeah, but I’d just love to hear these new songs.’ We would just keep playing song. One time we were out in the Sparks, Nevada working with Mel Tillis and he said ‘Glen called and he wants us to come over to Tahoe and play some songs.’ So we got in Mel’s plane and flew to Tahoe, and we played songs at Glen’s place, just played songs for each other for about two hours until we were horse. Then we flew back to Sparks, did our shows and Glen did his at Lake Tahoe. Short time ago I went to visit Glen at the home where he was staying and handed him a guitar. He picked it up and strummed it a little bit, gave me a big smile, and it was hard to see a man who looked really healthy, looked really good, still smiled real big, but not be able to communicate like he once did. But I have so many memories of him. And I pray that someday, we’ll find a cure or treatment for Alzheimer’s and those people who need help and that’s my one prayer."
“When I first came to Nashville, Tennessee to join the Oak Ridge Boys in 1973, I wasn’t with the group two weeks before Duane Allen took me to the CMA Awards, my first ever. I rented a tuxedo that looked like a high school prom tuxedo—horrible. That was the best I could do at the time. Glen Campbell came out and sang ‘By the Time I Get To Phoenix,’ and sat on the edge of the stage and sang it. I loved Glen Campbell. I had all of his records up to that point. I could not believe that I was sitting in the Opry House, actually watching Glen Campbell sing. Over the years, we became very good friends.” reminisces Joe Bonsall (The Oak Ridge Boys)
"Glen was a good friend with a great sense of humor.” shares Ray Stevens. “I remember once being backstage putting on a camel costume to go on and sing 'Ahab the Arab' and he showed up and said 'Well, it's come to this has it?' It's been a long goodbye since his diagnosis with Alzheimer's Disease. Glen Campbell will be greatly missed and long remembered."
"When we opened for Glen in Branson, Missouri on his farewell tour, I told him that he was one of the few artists that I could pinpoint times in my life when I first heard his songs.” shares John Dittrich of Restless Heart. “He had a look of amazement on his face and said, ‘Really? Wow.' He was genuinely surprised. He was a very nice and down to earth guy. We're all going to miss him."
"One of our heroes is gone. He was so gracious to us and we will always remember working with him throughout the years.” tells Larry Stewart of Restless Heart. “He moved us with his star presence, unforgettable songs and world class musicianship. Mr. Campbell, we will miss you!”
"Well Glen Campbell was special because he was so gifted.” shares Dolly Parton. “Glen is one of the greatest voices that ever was in the business, and he was one of the greatest musicians. 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. So he was just extremely talented. I will always love you, Glen!"
“Glen Campbell is such an incredible talent. Glen Campbell filled a niche in American music that very few people have ever reached. He was considered both pop and country, and not just one record or one little phase in his career, but years and years and years of his career. He represented the best of the pop and the best of country, and he went that kind of middle ground. He pulled people in from both sides.” adds Charlie Daniels. “It was a great thing for country music, and frankly, for pop music. He was an incredibly talented guitar player. A lot of people have heard Glen Campbell’s brand that don’t even realize it. He was a studio musician in Los Angles for a lot of years and he did a lot of work for a lot of artist we’re very familiar with. He had a great, God-given talent. We’ve seen him host television shows, he plays great guitar, he sings great and he entertains. Glen Campbell was one of the most unique people that has come along in the music business in my lifetime.”
“It's always tragic when you hear of a friend passing, but he had to be miserable that last few years of his life. At least he doesn't have to deal with that anymore.” shares Kenny Rogers. “We worked together a lot through the years. In fact, Glen played on almost all First Edition music. He played a dynamic riff on the guitar that was trend setting. I also shot a few of his album covers back in the day and, at the time, I never knew people were paid to do that, but a few weeks later I received a check in the mail that was unexpected and highly received. I'll never forget that. He was a good friend and it breaks my heart that he's not here to contribute to music anymore.”
“God Bless you Glen!” tells Steve Wariner. “When I was young I wanted to sing, play, even comb my hair like Glen Campbell! The most naturally gifted human I've ever been around. He was simply amazing, we'll miss you ole pal.”
“Glen Campbell, along with Johnny Cash, brought country music into the homes across America during the late 60s that will never be matched.” adds Marty Raybon of Shenandoah. “He was a versatile entertainer, session player and loving father. He will be missed by all that knew him and was touched by his amazing talent.”
“Glen Campbell was such a huge influence on me. Growing up, I studied his writing, songs and how he was an 'entertainer's entertainer.' Along with Johnny Cash, Dolly Parton and Porter Wagoner, Glen Campbell was one of the first to parlay country music into mainstream television and broaden the entire country music fan base across the globe.” adds Billy Ray Cyrus. “Ride on Rhinestone Cowboy. God Bless.”
“Sorry to hear about my good friend Glen. The loss is too big to put into words.” says Roy Clark solemnly. “He was an incredible voice, incredible musician, incredible friend, movie star and recording artist. We had so much fun together, and sort of grew up together in our music and our careers. There were so many memories that only he and I shared. Glen and I were brothers in every sense of the word. When I hear or see his name, I see the Glen I've always known. There will never, ever be another Glen Campbell.”
“I knew Glen for more than 50 years. We met on the set of a TV show in Toronto in 1964, and like everybody else in our business, I was a huge fan.” shares Whisperin’ Bill Anderson. “One of my treasured memories is the day Glen and I sat together, just the two of us and his guitar, and recorded a "Bill Anderson Visits with the Legends" radio show for XM satellite radio. We laughed, sang and visited like two neighbors across a picket fence. I'll remember it forever.”
“We lost another one of my heroes.” shares Moe Bandy. “One of the greatest singers, songwriters and musicians. He had it all. We are going to miss him dearly.”
“There's never been a better musician or a greater artist than Glen Campbell. I admired him and respected his talent.” tells Lee Greenwood.
When he could no longer remember… they did.
An when he breathed his last breath of earthly air and his soul left his body to enter into the spirit world—he took one final look back at his family that surrounded the body he once knew. In that one brief moment… he remembered everything that they could...
“Glen was a dear friend to me. One of the best. Let the Lord be with him to rest his soul and to comfort his family.” - Jerry Lee Lewis, Rock and Roll Hall of Famer
“We’re gonna miss Glen. He was a friend of mine for way over 50 years. He was my neighbor in LA before we both moved to Nashville and we hung out together a lot - back in the early ‘60s. It's a rough day.” - Bobby Bare, Country Music Hall of Famer
"Glen Campbell was a gentleman and a joy to work with. Glen played guitar and sang with Leon Russell and David Gates on my first records in Hollywood. He will be mourned and always loved by so many." - Chuck Negron, formerly of Three Dog Night
"Back in the '80s Ambrosia had the opportunity to eavesdrop on a rehearsal Glen was having with his band. We have rarely witnessed anyone with that level of instrumental and vocal talent and he pulled it off with great tact and a great sense of humor. We were more than impressed." - Burleigh Drummond of Ambrosia
"I was 5 years old when I learned all the words to 'By the Time I Get to Pheonix.' Now I am 55 and get senior discounts on coffee. Glen's voice cuts through the years to the very day I learned it! I learned his every inflection. Who had more pure talent than Glen Campbell? Nobody." - Max T. Barnes, award-winning songwriter
"Glen Campbell was one of the best of all time. His music has always inspired me. Rest in peace." - Country artist Logan Mize
"My mom always had Glen Campbell records around the house and when I hear them now it immediately takes me back to being a little girl. I always admired his long-lasting career and how some of his most recent music, like 2011's "Ghost On the Canvas," was some of his best, which makes him a true icon. That song is so much more haunting now." - Country artist Kalie Shorr
"Glen Campbell was a true icon, the music will miss him." - Scooter Brown of the Scooter Brown Band
"One of the greatest musicians, singers, entertainers, and beautiful human beings has left this life for the next life where no disease is allowed to enter, thank God! It takes a prepared person to go a place, and Glen was prepared. I knew him and loved him so much. My condolences to precious Kim and the family. Much love and prayers for you all." -Ricky Skaggs
"Today around 2:00 PM, my old and GREAT friend, Vince Gill became the best singer/guitar player alive, because our mutual GREAT friend Glen Travis Campbell went to see JESUS... I mean that as a compliment to both of my old friends. I'm in NYC eating Italian food down in Little Italy and Glen is in heaven eating angel food cake. My love and condolences to Kim, Ashley, Cal, Debbie, and the whole family." -Larry Gatlin
"In some ways my family's life changed once Dad became a semi regular on the Glen Campbell show and we were always so grateful for that. I just loved him always, he crossed genre's effortlessly and even though he was astonishingly good looking and talented he came off so real and natural… genius entertainer for sure. We'll miss him greatly." -Pam Tillis
"Glen's music came from an era that will never exist again. His unique sound and ability to touch his audience was something many musicians can never reach. He was truly a trailblazer in country music and there will never be another. Ride easy, Rhinestone Cowboy." -Doug Gray, The Marshall Tucker Band
"My Momma introduced me to the amazing talents of Glen Campbell. He was one of God's prices gifts to us all. It is a sad day." -Darryl Worley
"Adios to the great Rhinestone Cowboy Glen Campbell, who left us with an incredibly shining new piece of music that will be enjoyed by generations to come. Prayers for Kimberly and his family during this most difficult time. He will be missed." -John Berry
"Wow, what a great talent lost. He could do it all. There aren't many of them left. There will never be another Glen Campbell and he will be greatly missed." -Aaron Tippin
"A huge loss to his family, the fans and also country music. Used to enjoy watching the Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour! What a talent! God Bless him." -Sammy Kershaw
"There simply was no one else like Glen. I remember being touched by the tenderness of his children sharing the stage with their father at one of his last performances in Branson, MO. Sending heartfelt prayers and condolences from the entire Restless Heart family." -Dave Innis, Restless Heart
"We are saddened to hear of the passing of Glen Campbell. The Rhinestone Cowboy rides away leaving us with recordings of his amazing voice and memories of a wonderful career." -Halfway to Hazard
"Glen Campbell brought a sophistication to country music that was the perfect voice for the melodic Jimmy Webb songs. He was so musical and charismatic, and he put it all on display with the Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour, one of my family's favorite shows!" -Billy Dean
"Our prayers are with the Campbell family who lost Glen after his long and heart-wrenching battle with Alzheimer's. Quite simply, the world lost an amazing artist with a golden voice today. He was a true entertainer in every sense of the word and one of the biggest TV stars in country music ever." -James Robert Webb
“As a musician, he was a hero. As an Arkansan, he was a hero. RIP Glen.” – Justin Moore
“It’s sad to hear of the passing of yet another great musical genius. His music will live on! Some of the greatest country songs ever to be written or sung. My thoughts and prayers go out to the Campbell family in their time of sorrow and loss.” – KC of KC and the Sunshine Band
"I had the pleasure of inducting Glen into the Country Music Hall of Fame. He could write it, sing it and play it. He was a triple threat. He never forgot his friends and made room for them on any project could. He was one of the finest musicians I've ever known and certainly the prowess of his entertainment legacy goes without saying that. He was our golden boy. We loved him and the world loved him." – Brenda Lee
“I grew up loving Glen Campbell and am so sad to see him go. The greatest all around talent ever in country music.” – John Rich of Big and Rich
“I'm sad to learn of the passing of one of my heroes and friends, Glen Campbell. I loved his singing and guitar playing but I really admired him for his down to earth and friendly personality. I spent only a week working with him in Branson and he made us all feel like old friends. Rest In Peace old buddy." – Mark Chesnutt
“Glen Campbell touched so many lives during his time on this earth! He sang one of my all time favorite songs, Rhinestone Cowboy. He was such a talented singer, songwriter and actor. Today country music has lost yet another great and legend. May God watch over his family and fans through these tough times ahead. Rest in peace the one and only Glen Campbell!” – Shane Owens
“I was, am and always will be a Glen Campbell fan.” – Ronnie McDowell
“My hero... My Friend... Glen Campbell, is gone. My heart is heavy... A lot of memories...the end to a beautiful era in music. His incredible legacy is what we have now. Thank you, my friend, for always treating me as an equal, though clearly I am not. May God comfort your sweet family, and welcome you into His presence. The Heavenly Band, just got way better. I love you, Glen. Happy Trails." – Collin Raye
“Glen Campbell inspired millions with his TV show, including me. ‘Gentle on My Mind’ and ‘Wichita Lineman’ were in my repertoire before I ever started making records. He was also a fixture in Clovis, NM where Buddy Holly made his mark. Millions followed him and millions will miss him." – Gary Morris
“Glen Campbell brought a little more sophistication and class to country music. He not only entertained country fans, but his crossover success in the pop genre made him a true pioneer of his time. He had a huge hand in growing and expanding country music and that’s all any of us could hope to someday do.” –Frank Foster
“Even though Glen has been sick for a while, the news of his death is still very shocking to us. With all the live shows we did together, we just used to always stay around and watch his shows because of the songs and his beautiful voice. We will miss Glen dearly.” – David Bellamy of the Bellamy Brothers
"There are only so many artists that you can truly call icons. Glen Campbell was surely one of the brightest of those. His class, amazing vocal style, instrumental prowess and authenticity made him one of the best of all time. He will be deeply missed but his music will live on with us forever!" – Tim Rushlow
"Glen Campbell was a living legend. He was not only one of my favorite singer/musicians, but also helped create some of my favorite sounding music from other genres. He was part of The Beach Boys sound (the wrecking crew!) He created some of the main songs that still grace my playlist daily. His family will be in my prayers.” – Mark Wills
"Glen Campbell was a generational talent whose multiple gifts transcends genres while simultaneously defining them. His music also helped define my childhood. He's a big part of popular music history, and we're all lucky as hell for that...May he rest well... There will never be another like him." – Ray Scott
“What a great loss for Country Music and the world. Glen Campbell was one of the all-time greats as a singer, musician and entertainer, as well as a TV host and actor. He did it all and remained a down-home, salt of the earth man. He was a true gentleman who was always quick to say hello as if he was your neighbor. He was able to rise above all formats, as he hit the top of the charts in country and pop/rock virtually side by side. A remarkable feat by a most remarkable man.” – Gene Watson
"I'm so sad hearing the news of Glen's death today. As a kid, I was a big fan of ‘Glen Campbell's Goodtime Hour’ television show. ‘Wichita Lineman,’ and ‘By the Time I Get to Phoenix’ are two of my favorites and are absolute masterpieces. The depth of his talent and the ease with which he sang and played guitar was mesmerizing to watch! Flawless! You are loved Glen! My heart goes out to his family and friends." – Sylvia
“This is so sad. One of my proudest moments with Glen was when he borrowed my guitar for a TV Taping in Nashville. He is a respected talent. He was a great artist…I recently recorded one of his hit songs ‘Try a Little Kindness so I take a little bit of Glen with me everywhere I go.” – Janie Fricke
"I did many shows with Brother Glen. He was always a sweetheart, gentleman and good friend. I will greatly miss him. God bless his family." – T. Graham Brown
“Our Business takes a long time to recover from the loss of a giant star like Glen Campbell. I’m sure the night sky will for sure be brighter now that he has ascended home to our heavenly Father. His music inspired not only me, but many generations.” – T.G. Sheppard
"It's so sad to see another icon taken from us. He influenced so many musicians and artists. His music will live on forever." – Olivia Lane
“Glen Campbell is a hero to me because not only was he a phenomenal guitar player, but because he had that style and swagger about him. He was the bling man, come on! Rhinestone cowboy, live forever.” – Craig Wayne Boyd
“Rest In Peace one of our musical heroes, Glen Campbell – a true genius. What a musical legacy you left us!” – EXILE
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