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Country singer Glen Campbell dead at 81

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Country singer Glen Campbell dead at 81

Campbell was a six-time Grammy winner.

Campbell was a six-time Grammy winner.

  (RICK DIAMOND/GETTY IMAGES FOR CMT)

Musician Glen Campbell, who cemented his place as a legend in the country music realm with hits like "Rhinestone Cowboy" and "Gentle on My Mind," has died following a years-long battle with Alzheimer's disease. 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, at the age of 81, following his long and courageous battle with Alzheimer's disease," his family said in a statement.

His daughter Ashley also confirmed her father's death on Twitter with an emotional note and a photo of the pair holding hands.

"Heartbroken. I owe him everything I am, and everything I ever will be," she wrote. "He will be remembered so well and with so much love."

Musicians mourn the loss of country singer Glen Campbell

Campbell's iconic country music career stretched back more than five decades, and included six Grammy wins and 20 nominations. His 1968 Album of the Year award for "By The Time I Get to Phoenix" earned him the distinction of being the first country artist to ever win the award.

In recent years, Campbell — who also briefly enjoyed an acting career, with his own variety show on CBS and a role in "True Grit," among other things — was open about his struggle with Alzheimer's and its devastating effect on his life and his music.

A 2014 documentary, "I'll Be Me," chronicled his final tour and his battle with the disease. A song he wrote for the film, "I'm Not Gonna Miss You," even earned him an Oscar nomination for Best Original Song.

 

Campbell's legacy stretches back to a small town in southwest Arkansas, where he was born the seventh of 12 children. In the early '60s, he moved to Los Angeles in pursuit of a music career, and enjoyed early success as a session musician, playing with big names like Bobby Darin, Frank Sinatra and Merle Haggard.

He even contributed guitar to the Beach Boys' iconic album "Pet Sounds," and briefly stepped in to play for an absent Brian Wilson on tour with the group in 1965.

Campbell broke through to his own success in 1967 with "Burning Bridges," as the album's eponymous lead single went on to become a Top 20 country hit.

Campbell's success only continued to grow, and he secured his first No. 1 on the Billboard U.S. Country Albums chart with "Gentle on My Mind" in 1967. The popularity of that album and "By The Time I Get to Phoenix," which he released the same year, earned the singer an impressive four Grammy awards at the 1967 ceremony.

Not content with his massive success as a country artist, Campbell expanded his repertoire and became a double threat as he embraced an acting career in the late '60s. His role as La Boeuf in 1969's "True Grit" earned him a Most Promising Newcomer Golden Globe nomination, and he bolstered his resume with roles in movies like "Norwood" with Jack Haley and "Strange Homecoming," a TV movie.

His greatest success on screen, however, came in 1969 when he signed on to host the variety show "The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour" on CBS. The show lasted for four seasons and earned the easy-going crooner three more Golden Globe nominations.

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Country singer Glen Campbell has died at 81.

  (BETTMANN/BETTMANN ARCHIVE)

Following the show's cancellation in 1972, Campbell continued to make the rounds on TV, often hosting awards shows like the American Music Awards and appearing as a guest on talk shows like "Donny & Marie" and "The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson."

He also briefly returned as a headliner in 1982 for the syndicated series "The Glen Campbell Music Show," which lasted one season.

Music still remained his one true love, though, and he released his highest-selling single, the crossover hit "Rhinestone Cowboy," in 1975. "Cowboy" would become Campbell's first Billboard Hot 100 No. 1 single, though he'd accomplish the feat again in 1977 with "Southern Nights."

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Singer and actor Glen Campbell, with Joe Namath in their Paramount film, "Norwood" in 1969.

  (ASSOCIATED PRESS)

Campbell continued to churn out a steady stream of albums throughout the '80s and '90s, and in 2005, he was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.

The singer was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease in 2011, and embarked on a farewell tour that wrapped in 2012. He continued touring until 2014, when the disease forced him to quit the stage and move into a long-term care facility.

Campbell's wife, Kim, said in March that in the beginning, his disease manifested itself in strange ways.

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John Wayne (l.) and Campbell on "The Glen Campbell Show."

  (ITV/REX/SHUTTERSTOCK)

She explained that, starting in 2009, he began repeating himself a lot, and became "compulsive" about mundane tasks, such as parking the car just right and clearing out the bathroom drawers.

Toward the end, Kim said that her husband could no longer speak clearly, and that many of his words came out as "gibberish."

Still, she insisted that Campbell still had "his essence."

Campbell released his 64th and final studio album, "Adios," in June. The 12-track record was recorded in Nashville after Campbell wrapped his "Goodbye Tour" in 2012 in an effort to preserve "what magic was left." According to Rolling Stone, the album included tunes Campbell had "long loved but never had the chance to record."

He is survived by his wife, Kim, their three children, Cal, Shannon and Ashley, his children from previous marriages Debby, Kelli, Travis, Kane and Dillon, 10 grandchildren, great- and great-great-grandchildren, and five brothers and sisters.

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And this one....it's been a slow summer as far as my musician job goes...between Hurricane Irma and it being off-season so it's either watch Rockford Files and Kojak re-runs or do something productive - we chose this. Hope you guys like it 

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