Despite years of being a studio musician, working with such greats as Elvis, Sinatra, and touring with the Beach Boys (as Brian Wilson’s replacement), Glen Campbell seemed like an overnight success. In 1967, rendition of John Hartford’s poignant poem (to music) “Gentle on My Mind,” put Glen in the solo public spotlight, and, garnered him a Grammy Award for “Best Country Western Solo Performance, Male” the following year.
In 1968, CBS brought the young country singer into our living rooms every Sunday night, when the Smothers Brothers chose him to co-host their summer “Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour.” The result of that success was his own “Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour” on that same network.
Campbell was a natural, and his easy-going, folksy demeanor was somewhat reminiscent of a younger, hipper “Tennessee” Ernie Ford. And so the fair-haired all-American boy from Delight, Arkansas became a huge country music/crossover star.
“Gentle on My Mind” was followed by a string of hits, many composed by the great musical poet, Jimmy Webb. Among them:
• By the Time I Get to Phoenix
• Wichita Lineman
His relatability to the rags-to-riches lyrics of “Rhinestone Cowboy,” written by Larry Weiss made this one of his signature songs, as well.
In 1969, Campbell co-starred as the annoying Texican to John Wayne’s Rooster Cogburn character in the original movie “True Grit,” and also sang the theme song, written by Don Black and Elmer Bernstein.
Like many celebrities who seem to get “too much too soon,” Campbell’s personal life was fraught with considerable drama and scandal, including substance abuse and a highly publicized affair with Tanya Tucker. However, his talent was undeniable, and apparently in later years, he matured into a more settled lifestyle.
This is not intended as any kind of biography – only a sentimental tribute to the talent and musical legacy of Glen Campbell.
In 2011, he announced he had been diagnosed with the ravaging Alzheimer’s disease. Last year, his daughter Ashley, made a tearful appeal to Congress for Alzheimer’s research funding. It broke my heart when she said, “…Now when I play banjo with my dad, it’s getting harder for him to follow along — and it’s getting harder for him to recall my name…”
Having learned this week, the 77-year-old Campbell has been moved to a facility for Alzheimer’s patients, I just felt compelled to say we will never forget the name GLEN CAMPBELL – and all the wonderful musical memories he has given us.
Since posting this, I heard his poignant cover of this Jackson Browne song: “These Days” http://youtu.be/fiJEHeUqCEE
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