When the legendary Glen Campbell died in 2017, three of his eight children were disinherited from the will. An ongoing clash between him and three of his older kids states that he might not have made the decision in the right state of mind… Keep reading to learn more about this tragic tale.
Born in 1936, Glen Campbell was a country-pop legend who transcended genres with his smooth, sentimental melodies. His hypnotic vocals were first introduced to the world with 1965’s “Universal Soldier” and then back-to-back-hits in 1967 with “Gentle on my Mind” and “By the Time I get to Phoenix,” the latter collaborations with the Wrecking Crew, a collective of musicians.
Over the next two years, the Arkansas-born country crooner kept the flow going with “Dreams of the Everyday Housewife” and “Wichita on my Mind,” also in a partnership with the Wrecking Crew.
Campbell became a household name with his hit song “Rhinestone Cowboy.” The song topped both country and pop charts when it was released in 1975, earning the rank by Billboard as its number two song for 1975.
The “Southern Nights” singer achieved massive success with country and pop audiences and was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2005, and he also earned a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2012.
“They could never put me in a slot,” Campbell once joked. “They couldn’t say Glen was country or pop. I’m crock, okay? A cross between country and rock. Call me crock.”
The Grammy Hall of Famer also blended his harmonies on iconic tracks with artists like the Beach Boys, a band he occasionally toured with, Frank Sinatra, Ricky Nelson, Doris Day, Bobby Vee and Elvis Presley–to name a few.
The multi-talented artist also starred in 1969’s True Grit with John Wayne, and earned credits on soundtracks for films like 1999’s Deep Blue Sea and 2019’s X-Men: Dark Phoenix.
In his personal life, Campbell was also busy. He married multiple times, and in his life he had four wives and fathered nine children.
From his first marriage to Diane Marie Kirk (1955 to 1959), he had two children, Glen Campbell Jr., who died shortly after birth, and Deborah (born 1956).
Immediately following his divorce from Kirk, the “I Wanna Live” singer married Billie Jean Nunley and together, the pair had children Kelli, William, and Wesley. Billie and Campbell divorced in 1976.
Hot on Billie’s tail was his next wife, Sarah Barg Davis, who married the singer in the fall of 1976. The couple had Dillon and divorced in 1980.
Campbell admitted that the demands of his celebrity and his troubled marriages were a catalyst for his excessive drinking and cocaine use. “I didn’t hold back in those days,” he once said, sharing how he trashed hotel rooms and left a trail of destruction behind.
He told the story of how he once drunkenly boarded a plane with a government official from Indonesia and said he would call his “friend Ronald Regan and ask him to bomb Jakarta.”
Still, Campbell didn’t let his penchant for substances and marriage troubles slow him down.
In 1982, he married Radio City Hall Rockette Kimberly Woolen. The two had three children, Cal, Shannon and Ashley, all who joined Campbell on stage when he toured in 2010. “…we had such a victory over those years when God delivered him from alcoholism and drug addiction,” Kim said after she was widowed. “He became the best father and husband I could have ever hoped for, so it was a time of rejoicing for all that God had done in our lives.”
After Campbell and Woolen wed, he started releasing gospel-style music, but also staying true to his country roots; he had several top 10 hits like “I Have You” (1988) and in 1989, “She’s Gone, Gone, Gone.”
The six-time Grammy winner also published his memoir, “Rhinestone Cowboy.”
Then, in June 2011, the then 75-year-old announced that he had Alzheimer’s, though he earlier denied it when speaking with the Chicago Tribune. “I don’t know if I got it. That’s what the doctor said but I don’t know what it is. I said, “I’m going to go on and live my life. And to heck with that.’”
But there was no denying that his body was starting to shut down.
In 2012, he embarked on a farewell tour, with 137 shows, all that were captured on film, to illustrate his decline in the documentary, I’ll Be Me, which earned an Oscar nod for best original song for “I’m Not Going to Miss You.”
In that time, Campbell and Kim moved to Nashville to be closer to their children, and after a six-year battle with Alzheimer’s, the legendary country crooner died on August 8, 2017, at the age of 81.
“There were times he’d wake up and look at me and go ‘Are we married?’ He quit calling me by my name a long time ago,” Kim said after his death. “And then, he grew combative. He gave me a black eye. I’m younger than him and faster than him so I avoided a lot. You don’t take it personally. It’s part of the disease. They lose their ability to communicate verbally so if you are trying to do something they don’t like, they instinctively lash out.”
After his death, a legal battle broke out between family members over an estimated $50 million or more estate, which includes property, royalties, and Campbell’s stake in the MLB team, the Arizona Diamondbacks.
The will–signed in 2006 and naming Kim as the executor–excluded the three children he had with Billi: Kelli, Wesley and William, all whom were refused their father’s fortune.
His kids contested the will, claiming their father hadn’t been in the right capacity. Meanwhile, his widow filed a claim for $506,380 in the estate of her husband, and according to the filing in Davidson Probate Court in Nashville, the money was spent for assisted living care and related costs, including the construction of a security fence and legal fees.
Kim also has filed a claim for $14,246 to recover an insurance payment that, according to the claim, was wrongly paid to the estate.
In May 2018, Kim invoked a Tennessee law that guarantees a widow’s portion of her husband’s estate if there is no valid will in place after death. And just the month before, Campbell’s net worth–earlier valued at about $50 million–dropped to only $410,221.
It all ended in November 2018 when the kids surrendered without explanation, and Campbell’s wife of 34 years only said she was happy to put it all behind her.
In 2020, Kim published her memoir “Gentle on My Mind: In Sickness and in Health with Glen Campbell.” The book tells the story of her marriage to the singer, and also discusses his struggles with alcoholism and his slow decline with Alzheimer’s.
Glen Campbell was such an incredible talent and we miss not having him around to create more beautiful music. What are you favorite songs? And what do you think about him leaving three kids out of his will?