Glen Campbell was a rare entertainer who got to say goodbye to his life and career in every way he knew how.
Before his mind evaporated into Alzheimer’s disease, Campbell was able to go out on one last big tour, star in a documentary and record an album of his favorite songs, fittingly called “Adios.” Three of his children sing on the album, which was released earlier this summer.
The country superstar died Tuesday morning in Nashville, Campbell’s family said. He was 81.
“I owe him everything I am, and everything I ever will be,” daughter Ashley Campbell wrote on Twitter. “He will be remembered so well and with so much love.”
A guitarist since age 4, Campbell’s musical talent, boyish looks and friendly charm brought him decades of success. 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. Campbell was nominated again for an Oscar in 2015 for “I’m Not Gonna Miss You,” a song from the documentary “Glen Campbell… I’ll Be Me.”
The 2014 film about Campbell’s farewell tour in 2011 and 2012 offers a poignant look at his decline from Alzheimer’s while showcasing his virtuoso guitar chops that somehow continued to shine as his mind unraveled.
His wife, Kim Campbell, announced earlier this year that her husband could no longer play guitar.
Campbell’s musical career dated back to the early years of rock ‘n roll. He toured with the Champs of “Tequila” fame. He was part of the house band for the ABC TV show “Shindig!” and a member of Phil Spector’s “Wrecking Crew” studio band that played on hits by the Ronettes, the Righteous Brothers and the Crystals. Campbell also played guitar on Frank Sinatra’s “Strangers In the Night,” The Monkees’ “I’m a Believer” and Elvis Presley’s “Viva Las Vegas.”
“We’d get the rock ‘n’ roll guys and play all that, then we’d get Sinatra and Dean Martin,” Campbell told The Associated Press in 2011. “That was a kick. I really enjoyed that. I didn’t want to go nowhere. I was making more money than I ever made just doing studio work.”
One of 12 children, Campbell left his native Arkansas and a life of farm work as a teenager in pursuit of music. He moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico to join his uncle’s band and appear on his uncle’s radio show. By…