GLEN Campbell, the legendary country music star best known for his 1975 hit, Rhinestone Cowboy has died after a "long and courageous battle" with Alzheimer's disease, his family has said. He was 81.

The iconic performer whose career spanned half a century died at 10am local time on Tuesday in a Nashville home for Alzheimer's patients, according to a source close to his family.

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

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"In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Glen Campbell Memorial Fund at BrightFocus Foundation through the donation page."

Country singer Dolly Parton paid an emotional tribute to "one of the greatest voices of all time."

The Jolene singer, 71, posted a video message on Twitter and wrote: "Glen Campbell was one of the greatest voices of all time. I will always love you, Glen!"

She said: "Glen Campbell was special because he was so gifted. Glen is one of the greatest voices that ever was in the business and he was one of the greatest musicians.

"He was a wonderful session musician as well - a lot of people don't know realise that but he could play anything and he could play it really well - so he was just extremely talented."

The legendary guitarist, who blurred the lines between country and pop, announced his Alzheimer's diagnosis in 2011.

He is survived by his wife, Kim Campbell, and eight children. His wife was scheduled to speak at The Alzheimer's Alliance of Smith County luncheon in Tyler, Texas in November about the challenges faced by people living with the disease and their families.

The musician released more than 70 albums over a 50-year career, and had a series of hits including Wichita Lineman, Gentle on My Mind and Galveston.

A sharecropper’s son from Arkansas, Campbell's career spanned six decades and in 1968 he is said to have sold more records than the Beatles.

Long before he was a household name, Campbell was a studio musician in Los Angeles, part of the famous Wrecking Crew a loose cluster of studio players who backed stars on many hits of the day.

Campbell once said he didn't consider himself a "country singer," but rather a "country boy who sings." 

He made history in 1967 by winning four Grammys in the country and pop categories.

His 64th and final studio album released last month having been recorded in Nashville between 2012 and 2013, was called Adios.