In a legendary career that spanned more than five decades, Glen Campbell created an indelible mark on American pop culture as a beloved musician, singer, movie star and television personality. From his time as a groundbreaking guitarist for Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra, The Beach Boys and many others in the archetypical backing band The Wrecking Crew to his decades atop the charts to the grace he showed as he closed his career while fighting Alzheimer's disease, there are few artists who have touched as many lives as the Rhinestone Cowboy.
Before announcing his retirement from the studio and stage in 2013, after half a century of recording and touring, Campbell had won most every award and achieved every milestone available to musicians. Born in 1936 as the 12th child and seventh son of a dirt poor sharecropper, Campbell rose from his humble beginnings in rural Delight, Arkansas to become one of the best-selling solo male artists in U.S. chart history. The global superstar released more than 70 albums, selling 50 million copies with more than 80 songs charting. He achieved chart-topping, platinum-selling success in the arenas of pop and country music, bridging the two worlds and bringing country music to the masses as one of the genre's first crossover stars. Testament to his widespread appeal that spanned generations and genres, borders and language barriers, his musical accolades were dizzying: 21 unforgettable Top 40 hits, including two No. 1's; 27 Top 10 Country singles, six Top 20 albums, including the double-platinum classic, Wichita Lineman, and nine No. 1 country albums.
Campbell's musical and entertainment lifetime is unmatched for its prolific breadth, popular appeal -- and flat-out musical accomplishment and achievement. His biggest run of hits ("Gentle on My Mind," "By the Time I Get to Phoenix," "Wichita Lineman," "Galveston," "Rhinestone Cowboy," a signature song that became his theme in many ways, and "Southern Nights," just to name a handful) put him in the pop elite of the '60s and '70s, erasing the line between pop and country and helping pave the way for generations of others.
A six-time Grammy winner, Campbell made history in 1967 with his first Grammy wins by sweeping the song and performance awards in both the pop and country and western categories. "By the Time I Get to Phoenix" won the pop honors and "Gentle on My Mind" took the two country and western trophies. Those two songs and "Wichita Lineman" are in the Grammy Hall of Fame. A member of both the Country Music Hall of Fame and the Musicians Hall of Fame, Campbell won Country Music Association's Entertainer of the Year, twice won the Academy of Country Music's Album of the Year award and was named Male Vocalist of the Year by both. In 2012, he was bestowed the Grammy's most prestigious honor, a Lifetime Achievement Award.
Campbell's striking good-looks and country charm made him an instant television success with his variety series, "The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour." Seen in millions of homes across the U.S. for four seasons, Glen Campbell became a household name and a true celebrity. The show's broadcasts in Great Britain, Australia and Singapore introduced him to an even wider audience and catapulted him to worldwide fame. Campbell also moved into the world of film as the hand-picked co-star of John Wayne in the movie "True Grit." His eponymous song for the soundtrack was nominated for an Academy Award and he was nominated for Most Promising Newcomer at the Golden Globes.
But even at his popular peak, few were aware of the full extent of his credentials as a first-call session guitarist whose much sought-after musicianship as a member of The Wrecking Crew -- widely considered one of the most successful session recording units in music history -- helped shape Phil Spector's famed "Wall of Sound" and The Beach Boys' most creative works. After thrilling Brian Wilson with his talent, Campbell later became a touring member for a stretch when Wilson first retired from the road in 1964. Alongside musicians like Leon Russell, Carol Kaye and drummers Hal Blaine and Earl Palmer, Campbell played on an astounding 586 sessions in 1963 alone. His memorable guitar parts can be heard throughout the Beach Boys' landmark Pet Sounds album, Frank Sinatra's "Strangers in the Night," the Righteous Brothers' "You've Lost That Lovin' Feeling" and the Monkees' "I'm a Believer," not to mention hits by Elvis Presley, Bobby Darin, Lou Rawls, Ricky Nelson, Merle Haggard and Bobby Vee.