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R.I.P. Glen Campbell, the country legend, "Rhinestone Cowboy" and variety show host

The singer-guitarist passed away at the age of 81.

Image: The Everett Collection

In 1960, a Western guitarist from Albuquerque by the name of Glen Campbell moved to Los Angeles with the modest ambitions of becoming a session musician. By the end of the decade, he played on what is considered the greatest pop album of all time, earned a Golden Globe nomination for his acting in a John Wayne classic, and landed a gig hosting a hit variety show on television.

And that's not even counting the ten Top 40 hits he released as a solo artist in the 1960s. Campbell cemented his legacy in the Sixties, and continues to build upon it for the next half century. On August 8, the Country Music Hall of Fame inductee passed away, as reported by Rolling Stone. He was 81 years old.

Not long after his move to Hollywood, Campbell joined the brilliant group of session musicians later dubbed the Wrecking Crew. The unmatched credits of this band are too numerous to name, but include immortal classics for Phil Spector, Elvis Presley and Frank Sinatra. The Wrecking Crew, with Campbell on guitar, also worked under Brian Wilson's direction to craft the Beach Boys's brilliant Pet Sounds. When Wilson stepped away from touring and the spotlight, Cambell had briefly joined the Beach Boys from 1964–65 as his replacement on the road.

Campbell shortly thereafter burst onto the scene as a solo performer, thanks to hits like "By the Time I Get to Phoenix," "Wichita Lineman," "Galveston" and "True Grit," the title song from the John Wayne film. Campbell also acted in the movie, playing La Boeuf in one of his rare screen roles.

During the summer of 1968, Campbell filled in as a substitute variety show host for The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour. This led to his own variety series, The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour, which ranked as one of the Top 20 shows on television between 1968–70. As the networks began their "rural purge" at the start of a new decade, his Goodtime Hour continued to draw viewers, running until 1972.

After cancellation, Campbell remained a regular presence on the small screen, appearing in TV movies, on talk shows, occasionally hosting specials. His music career suddenly boomed, as "Rhinestone Cowboy" (1975) and "Southern Nights" (1977) both rocketed to No. 1. 

While his mainstream pop success may have waned, Campbell continued to pen country hits right up to the modern age, most recently charting in 2014 with "I'm Not Gonna Miss You," which came from the documentary Glen Campbell: I'll Be Me, a touching look at his final tour and diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease.

It's a wonderful song, but we are going to miss him.

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  • ADAM WEST, TV'S BELOVED BATMAN
  • Mary Tyler Moore
  • BARBARA HALE OF 'PERRY MASON'
  • Roger Moore
  • ERIN MORAN OF 'HAPPY DAYS' AND 'JOANIE LOVES CHACHI'
  • DINA MERRILL, THE BILLIONAIRE HEIRESS WHO PLAYED BATMAN VILLAIN CALAMITY JAN
  • Mike Connors, star of 'Mannix'
  • Don Rickles
  • RICHARD HATCH of 'BATTLESTAR GALACTICA'
  • MICHAEL PARKS OF 'THEN CAME BRONSON' AND 'TWIN PEAKS'
  • Chuck Barris, host of 'The Gong Show'
  • Roger Smith of '77 Sunset Strip'
  • ELENA VERDUGO OF 'MARCUS WELBY, M.D.'
  • CURT LOWENS, HOLOCAUST SURVIVOR, WAR HERO AND 'HOGAN'S HEROES' ACTOR
  • JUDGE JOSEPH WAPNER OF 'THE PEOPLE'S COURT'
  • FILM HISTORIAN ROBERT OSBORNE
  • Dick Gautier, Hymie the Robot from 'Get Smart'
  • LAWRENCE MONTAIGNE OF 'STAR TREK'
  • LOLA ALBRIGHT OF 'PETER GUNN'
  • CHELSEA BROWN OF 'ROWAN & MARTIN'S LAUGH-IN'
  • QUINN O'HARA OF 'THE GHOST IN THE INVISIBLE BIKINI'
  • PETER HANSEN OF 'GENERAL HOSPITAL' AND 'GOMER PYLE, U.S.M.C.'
  • JUNE FORAY, THE VOICE OF ROCKY THE FLYING SQUIRREL
  • RED WEST, THE ELVIS PRESLEY BODYGUARD WHO PLAYED THE PERFECT TV TOUGH GUY
  • JOHN CYGAN OF 'THE COMMISH' AND 'BOB'
  • MIGUEL FERRER, SON OF JOSÉ FERRER AND ROSEMARY CLOONEY
  • Francine York, 'Batman' actress and 1960s star
  • BRUCE LANSBURY, BROTHER OF ANGELA, PRODUCER OF 'WONDER WOMAN' AND 'WILD WILD WEST'
  • JEFFREY HAYDEN, DIRECTOR OF ALL OF OUR FAVORITE TV EPISODES
  • ADAM WEST, TV'S BELOVED BATMAN
  • Mary Tyler Moore
  • BARBARA HALE OF 'PERRY MASON'
  • Roger Moore
  • ERIN MORAN OF 'HAPPY DAYS' AND 'JOANIE LOVES CHACHI'
  • DINA MERRILL, THE BILLIONAIRE HEIRESS WHO PLAYED BATMAN VILLAIN CALAMITY JAN
  • Mike Connors, star of 'Mannix'
  • Don Rickles
  • RICHARD HATCH of 'BATTLESTAR GALACTICA'
  • MICHAEL PARKS OF 'THEN CAME BRONSON' AND 'TWIN PEAKS'
  • Chuck Barris, host of 'The Gong Show'
  • Roger Smith of '77 Sunset Strip'
  • ELENA VERDUGO OF 'MARCUS WELBY, M.D.'
  • CURT LOWENS, HOLOCAUST SURVIVOR, WAR HERO AND 'HOGAN'S HEROES' ACTOR
  • JUDGE JOSEPH WAPNER OF 'THE PEOPLE'S COURT'
  • FILM HISTORIAN ROBERT OSBORNE
  • Dick Gautier, Hymie the Robot from 'Get Smart'
  • LAWRENCE MONTAIGNE OF 'STAR TREK'
  • LOLA ALBRIGHT OF 'PETER GUNN'
  • CHELSEA BROWN OF 'ROWAN & MARTIN'S LAUGH-IN'
  • QUINN O'HARA OF 'THE GHOST IN THE INVISIBLE BIKINI'
  • PETER HANSEN OF 'GENERAL HOSPITAL' AND 'GOMER PYLE, U.S.M.C.'
  • JUNE FORAY, THE VOICE OF ROCKY THE FLYING SQUIRREL
  • RED WEST, THE ELVIS PRESLEY BODYGUARD WHO PLAYED THE PERFECT TV TOUGH GUY
  • JOHN CYGAN OF 'THE COMMISH' AND 'BOB'
  • MIGUEL FERRER, SON OF JOSÉ FERRER AND ROSEMARY CLOONEY
  • Francine York, 'Batman' actress and 1960s star
  • BRUCE LANSBURY, BROTHER OF ANGELA, PRODUCER OF 'WONDER WOMAN' AND 'WILD WILD WEST'
  • JEFFREY HAYDEN, DIRECTOR OF ALL OF OUR FAVORITE TV EPISODES

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