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Country music legend Glen Campbell dead at 81

© GETTY IMAGES/AFP/File | Country music legend Glen Campbell, seen here at the 2012 Grammy Awards, has died at the age of 81

WASHINGTON (AFP) - 

Country music legend Glen Campbell, the "Rhinestone Cowboy" who sold millions of albums over a career that spanned decades, has died at the age of 81 after a long battle with Alzheimer's disease, his family announced Tuesday.

"It is with the heaviest of hearts that we announce the passing of our beloved husband, father, grandfather, and legendary singer and guitarist," the statement said.

Campbell achieved crossover success on the US and British pop charts starting in the 1960s with hits including "Rhinestone Cowboy" and "Wichita Lineman."

In his early career, Campbell performed as a session musician for legends like Elvis Presley and Frank Sinatra.

He also toured with The Beach Boys after singer Brian Wilson temporarily retired from the band.

Campbell was the host of his own television show -- The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour -- from 1969 to 1972.

His best-selling single, "Rhinestone Cowboy," was released in 1975 and has sold more than five million copies.

Campbell also appeared in the 1969 Western "True Grit," playing the role of LaBoeuf, a Texas Ranger, who partners with John Wayne's Rooster Cogburn in search of a killer.

Already suffering the ravages of Alzheimer's, Campbell released his final album, "Adios" in June.

Glen Travis Campbell was born on April 22, 1936 in a small town in the southern state of Arkansas, the seventh of 12 children of a struggling sharecropper.

© 2017 AFP