We’re sad to report that iconic singer and songwriter Glen Campbell passed away today at age 81, according to a report in Rolling Stone. Campbell was the voice and the pen behind 21 Top 40 hits across the 60s and 70s including “Wichita Lineman” and “By the Time I Get to Phoenix”; he’s also known for Vietnam-era songs like “Galveston” and a cover of Buffy Sainte-Marie’s “Universal Soldier,” and most iconically, “Rhinestone Cowboy.”
Campbell was born in Billstown, Arkansas, one of 12 siblings in a farming family; he spent his teen years moving around and following the muse of music, as Rolling Stone‘s Patrick Doyle tells it.
In his youth, Campbell started playing guitar and became obsessed with jazz guitarist Django Reinhardt. He dropped out of school when he was 14 and moved to Wyoming with an uncle who was a musician, playing gigs together at rural bars. He soon moved to Los Angeles and by 1962 had solidified a spot in the Wrecking Crew, a group of session pros. In 1963 alone he appeared on 586 cuts, and countless more throughout the decade, including the Byrds’ “Mr. Tambourine Man,” Elvis Presley’s “Viva Las Vegas,” Merle Haggard’s “Mama Tried” and the Righteous Brothers’ “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling.”
After launching a career as a songwriter and solo artist, he made his way into television, appearing first on the Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour before moving on to his own show, Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour. He retreated from the spotlight in the 80s, but in 2008, Campbell appeared on World Cafe, where he sat down with host David Dye to perform songs from his covers record Meet Glen Campbell.
The album paid tribute to artists such as Tom Petty, The Velvet Underground and U2. As Dye wrote at the time, “The tongue-in-cheek title of his new record acknowledges the amount of time he’s been outside the spotlight, as he covers songs in a way that conveys their importance to him.”
Listen to the session below.
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