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Glen Campbell's musical and entertainment lifetime, covering over five decades, 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 and Southern Nights just to name a handful) put him in the pop elite of the late-'60s and early-'70s, erasing the line between pop and country and helping pave the way for generations of others. You could well call him the first "countrypolitan" star, though the sharecropper's son from Delight, Arkansas never lost any of the pure country in his soul.
But even at his popular peak, few were aware of the full extents of his credentials as a first-call session guitarist whose picking helped shape Phil Spector's famed "Wall of Sound" and the Beach Boys's most creative works (the latter for whom he also became a touring member for a stretch when Brian Wilson first retired from the road in 1964). That's him creating indelible guitar parts on 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, Bobby Vee. And yeah, you can see him backing various artists with the Wrecking Crew as the house band on the legendary "T.A.M.I. Show".
This background made his TV show, The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour, a destination for the top artists of the era - but he also used the setting to show off his own skills and those of some lesser-known friends (John Hartford, Doug Dillard) in the regular "Pickin' Pit" segment with friendly folk-country cutting contests between the players. It was an eye-opening look into American roots music for the mainstream. The combination of talents and personality that made him a TV star enabled him to transcend eras, remaining a hit-maker across decades as well as across genres.
Well-documented troubles and struggles along the way at times took him on less pleasant paths. But through family and faith he overcame them, not just surviving but thriving. And not only has he remained a top touring artist through the years - with sons Cal and Shannon and daughter Ashley becoming key members of his band - but has found fresh approaches and material as well.
2011's Ghost on the Canvas is a moving, engaging and inspirational song cycle that traces the arc of his remarkable life, love and faith. With songs crafted by Campbell and Raymond joined by contributions from acolytes Jakob Dylan, Paul Westerberg and Teddy Thompson and guest appearances by such admirers as Smashing Pumpkins' Billy Corgan, Brian Setzer and members of the Dandy Warhols, the album at once renewed and revitalized the spirit of classic Campbell albums and stood tall alongside them. Shortly after he recorded the album, Glen was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. Undeterred, he embarked on a series of live dates that he dubbed "The Glen Campbell Goodbye Tour".
USA Today hailed Ghost on the Canvas as "a museum-quality masterpiece", while Rolling Stone noted: "The years have added an edge to his singing." He was honored with a star-studded tribute at the Country Music Awards in 2011 and a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Grammy Awards in 2012.