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Glen Campbell dies at 81; country-pop singer battled Alzheimer’s

Glen Campbell, the multiple Grammy-winning country-pop singer, guitarist and TV personality whose half-century career was capped by a singular last act after he went public with his advancing Alzheimer’s disease, has died. He was 81.

Possessed of a crystalline tenor voice and boy-next-door good looks, Campbell sold more than 45 million records and was known for a signature string of ‘60s and ’70s country music hits that included “Gentle on My Mind,” “Wichita Lineman” and “Rhinestone Cowboy.”

His farewell tour and the accompanying film elicited an emotional outpouring. Rejecting the shame and secrecy that sometimes attend Alzheimer’s, Campbell turned into an advocate for the disease and was staunchly public about his affliction; audiences cheered him even as he struggled to remember his lyrics on stage.

In the film, former President Bill Clinton saluted Campbell’s actions, saying his advocacy on behalf of those with Alzheimer’s might ultimately outstrip his contributions to music as his most lasting legacy.

Yet even as Campbell’s disease progressed, he retained a deep musical fluency. Campbell would forget the words to songs, his documentarian later said, but not the music. He could still hit the notes.

Also featured in the film was the song “I’m Not Gonna Miss You,” which Campbell had written and recorded with Raymond.

Like the Goodbye Tour, the song is unique in the country canon. Stark, specific and unsentimental, its few simple lines convey profound loss, both for Alzheimer’s sufferers and those who love them. It opens with, “I’m still here/ But yet I’m gone.”

“I’m Not Gonna Miss You” received an Academy Award nomination for original song and earned Campbell the sixth and final Grammy of his career.

Campbell is survived by his wife, Kim Campbell, their three children; Cal, Shannon and Ashley; his children from previous marriages, Debby, Kelli, Travis, Kane, and Dillon; 10 grandchildren, great- and great-great-grandchildren; sisters Barbara, Sandra, and Jane; and brothers John Wallace “Shorty” and Gerald.

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At Glen Campbell’s elbow as he adjusts to Alzheimer’s

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