Glen Campbell has always felt a divine touch in his life, as if he were given a gift he didn’t earn, but was allowed to use to make people happy and forget their worries for a time.
How else do you explain his life, one of the most extraordinary rags to riches stories in popular music history? The 12th child and seventh son of a dirt poor sharecropper born in the depths of the depression on April 22, 1936, Campbell drowned when he was a toddler in the Little Missouri River near his family’s Arkansas home. His lips were blue when he was pulled from the river and those who rescued him believed he was gone. But he lived miraculously after his brother Lyndell resuscitated him, and Campbell always suspected it was because of this gift.
It wasn’t long after this that Campbell’s father recognized his talent and bought him a $5 guitar from Sears & Roebuck at the age of four. He quickly showed himself to be a prodigy under the tutelage of his Uncle Boo. How could the two not be related? For it was clear Campbell was a special talent, so much so that he broke the poverty cycle and began to earn a living with his guitar as a teenager and went on to become one of the most respected, revered and popular performers of the rock ‘n’ roll era.
From his time as a groundbreaking musician for Elvis, Frank Sinatra, The Beach Boys and many others in the archetypical backing band The Wrecking Crew to his decade 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. And left them smiling.
By the time Campbell won his sixth Grammy Award in 2014 for his final recording, “I’m Not Going to Miss You,” he had won most every award and achieved every milestone available to musicians. One of the best-selling solo male artists in U.S. chart history, Campbell released more than 70 albums, selling 50 million copies with more than 80 songs charting. He is a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame and the Musicians Hall of Fame. He won the 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.