Text by Dawoud Kringle
On Tuesday, August 8th, 2017, following a lengthy battle with Alzheimer’s Disease, Glen Campbell died.
Born in Billstown, AR in 1936, Campbell began to play guitar at age four. With no formal training, he was found to be a natural. At age six, he performed on local radio programs. He later said his biggest influence was Django Reinhardt. In 1954, at age 17, Campbell moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico, to join his uncle’s band, known as Dick Bills and the Sandia Mountain Boys, and i n 1958, Campbell formed his own band, the Western Wranglers.
In 1960, Campbell moved to Los Angeles and found immediate success as a session musician. In ensuing years, he worked with artists such as Bobby Darin, Ricky Nelson, Dean Martin, Nat King Cole, the Monkees, Nancy Sinatra, Merle Haggard, Jan and Dean, Frank Sinatra, Phil Spector and Elvis Presley. After his solo career took off, he’d still do occasional session work with popular artists such as the Monkees and the Beach Boys.
In 1967 Campbell scored a hit single with the release of John Hartford’s “Gentle on My Mind”. “By the Time I Get to Phoenix” was released later in 1967, and “I Wanna Live” and “Wichita Lineman” in 1968. They remained on Billboard’s Top 100 charts for 15 weeks. He won four Grammy Awards for “Gentle on My Mind” and “By the Time I Get to Phoenix.”
Campbell hosted his own weekly TV variety show, The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour, from January 1969 through June 1972 (Steve Martin and Rob Reiner were writers). Guests on the show including The Beatles, David Gates, Bread, The Monkees, Neil Diamond, Linda Ronstadt, Johnny Cash, Merle Haggard, Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, Roger Miller, Mel Tillis, and Cream.
In the mid-1970s, “Rhinestone Cowboy”, “Southern Nights”), “Sunflower”(written by Neil Diamond), and “Country Boy (You Got Your Feet in L.A.)” became U.S. number one hits.
Apart from his singing and abilities to write well crafted pop songs, Campbell was a virtuoso guitarist. His skills on guitar earned the respect of musicians such as Chet Atkins, George Benson, Eric Clapton, Paul McCartney, and many others. Eddie Van Halen attempted to seek guitar lessons from Campbell. Completely self taught, there was seemingly no style of music he couldn’t master. Alice Cooper, a good friend of Campbell’s, believed him to be one of the five best guitarists alive (he also said Campbell was the best golf player he’d ever played against).
In June 2011, Campbell announced he had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. Following the diagnosis, Campbell embarked on a final “Goodbye Tour”, with three of his children joining him in his backup band. His final performance was on November 30, 2012, in Napa, California. After the end of the tour, Campbell recorded what would be his final album, Adiós. In January 2013, Campbell recorded his final song, “I’m Not Gonna Miss You”, during what would be his last recording sessions.
DooBeeDooBeeDoo NY salutes the memory of a fellow musician and his amazing accomplishments.