Country-pop legend Glen Campbell passed away yesterday at the age 81 from Alzheimer’s complications. While those closest to him lost a beloved husband, father, and trusted friend, the world lost a musician who made an indelible mark on the music scene. His battle with the insidious disease and his final concert tour was the subject of the 2014 documentary I’ll Be Me. Campbell’s solo career began in 1961, and over the next five decades, he sold 45 million records, won every conceivable award possible as a country and pop musician (including four Grammys in one night!), and contributed to some of the most famous songs ever recorded. Hell, in 1968, he outsold The Beatles. As part of Phil Spector’s legendary coterie of studio musicians known as The Wrecking Crew, Campbell helped make parts of hit songs from Frank Sinatra to The Monkees and even The Beach Boys.
In a statement released yesterday, his surviving family said: “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.”
In honor of the late Mr. Campbell, we thought it would be a fitting tribute to look at some of his career highlights. We have his chart topping solo work and a few of his most famous session contributions on tap. Check out the videos below for a peek at the amazing range of material he produced over the course of his singularly impressive career below.
Glen Campbell, “Witchita Lineman”
Though Dean Martin’s version of “Witchita Lineman” was more popular in Europe, in America, the song was always best known as performed by Glen Campbell. As one of his earliest solo chart toppers, it became part of his incredibly popular late-sixties run of classics.
The Beach Boys, “Good Vibrations”
The Wrecking Crew faced one of their biggest challenges when they helped The Beach Boys bring the legendary psychedelic masterpiece Pet Sounds to life. As always, Campbell and his cohorts managed to create unforgettable music without ever overshadowing the sound of the artists they were backing.
Glen Campbell, “Rhinestone Cowboy”
Campbell experienced a resurgence in popularity in the late seventies and early eighties, which included the insanely catchy “Rhinestone Cowboy.” The popularity of the song led to a nationwide country-music craze that saw mechanical bulls and cowboy hats fill bars across the nation.
Frank Sinatra, “Strangers In the Night”
Campbell would always refer to providing back-up for Frank Sinatra in the midst of his heyday as one of his greatest career highlights. Campbell’s work on “Strangers In The Night” was like all of his studio work—exactly what was needed, no more, no less.
Glen Campbell, “Gentle On My Mind”
From 1969 to 1972, The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour was a hit on the CBS network as part of their “rural” block of programming. Campbell’s cover of John Hartford’s “Gentle On My Mind” served as the theme song throughout the show’s run and was etched into the mind of millions of regular viewers.
Bob Dylan, “Mr. Tambourine Man”
To help thicken out Bob Dylan’s take on “Mr. Tambourine Man,” Campbell was brought in to get the guitar sound perfected to compliment Dylan’s off-tone vocals. The result became one of pop’s most enduring songs.
Glen Campbell, “Southern Nights”
Glen Campbell scored one his biggest hits with an unlikely cover of Allen Toussaint’s “Southern Nights.” The song served as the title track for his 32nd record and helped Campbell score yet another top ten track.
The Monkees, “I’m A Believer”
As part of The Wrecking Crew, Campbell’s contribution to The Monkees caused a huge controversy when word that the band hadn’t played their own instruments broke. Check out the rock solid guitar work by Campbell on “I’m A Believer.”
Glen Campbell, “I’m Not Gonna Miss You”
Glen Campbell’s last single, “I’m Not Gonna Miss You,” was part of his Academy Award-nominated documentary I’ll Be Me. The track is a poignant final statement from this legendary artist, and though he lost the award, the song lives on forever.
The Righteous Brothers, “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin'”
We thought that The Righteous Brothers and their classic hit “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin'” best summed up how we feel about Mr. Campbell’s passing. The world did indeed lose a little bit of love, but the joy Campbell created will be inspiring a loving feeling for generations to come.