Monday, July 09, 2012

Glen Campbell

Glen Campbell had been around for a while when I first became aware of him in. As a member of The Wrecking Crew, he'd played (uncredited) on many records and would play on many more. He released a single in 1961 titled "Turn Around, Look at Me" that was a minor hit. It must have been played fairly often on at least some Texas stations, because I became very familiar with it.

A few years later Campbell was a regular on a TV series called Shindig, a great show. He did some solo work and was a member of the show's band, the Shindogs. One thing in particular sticks in my memory. One the first show after the Beatles appeared on Ed Sullivan, Campbell came out with a Beatle haircut.

I followed his career after that, and in 1967 or '68 Judy and I went to a concert that featured Bobbie Gentry. Campbell was the opening act. He was a sensation. I don't think anybody in the audience wanted him to leave the stage, but he did. He came back out, though, for some duets with Gentry, and one of the songs they did was "Less of Me," which I liked a lot.

Campbell went on to have an enviable career. He was a constant presence on the radio in the late '60s and through a lot of the '70s, with one great record after another. He had a hit TV series that I watched every week.

About a year ago Campbell announced that he'd been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. Not long afterward, he started on his "Goodbye Tour." When I saw that he'd be performing at the 1894 Grand Opera House in Galveston last night, I knew Judy and I had to go. And we did.

The show was short, not much over an hour, but it was great. I lost count of the standing ovations (one, of course was for Jimmy Webb's great "Galveston"). Campbell is obviously having memory problems, but he's still a consummate performer. And he can still play guitar like he was born with one in his hands. He sang a lot of his hits, and though he stumbled a few times on the words, in spite of the monitors positioned so he could read from them, nobody cared. When he forgot the lyric to "Rhinestone Cowboy," it didn't matter at all because the audience was singing so loud that it carried him through. He was having a fine time, and so was everyone else.

The highlight of the show, for me, was the duet with his daughter on "Try a Little Kindness." After 45 years, it was as if a circle was closing. But not quite. The show ended with him being given the key to the city of Galveston. He seemed surprised and touched by the gesture, and the ovation was loud and long. When he left the stage with his band, they walked off. The curtain didn't fall. It won't ever fall on Campbell's music. I hope it doesn't fall on him for a long time.


8 comments:

  1. That was wonderful, Bill. And much appreciated. I love Glen Campbell and listen to what he calls his last album, GHOST IN THE CANVAS, over and over again.
    Sure wish I could hear him perform in person.
    Pete

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  2. It's a fine album. He did three or four songs from it last night, closing with "A Better Place." I think he was a little bit verklempt. I know I was.

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  3. What a wonderful account. I saw Glen Campbell at the Indianapolis State Fair back in the late 60's / early 70's. I couldn't have been much over 10, but I loved every minute of the concert... even if it was country. ; )

    I downloaded Ghost in the Canvas and learned about Mr. Campbell's disease. So sad. You're right though, the curtain will never set on him.

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  4. Anonymous6:44 PM

    What great memories for you and Judy. Thanks for sharing, really fun reading.
    Michel

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  5. Anonymous8:06 PM

    Wish I'd been there, Bill.

    Never met Glen, but having gone to school in Delight, Arkansas, knew his parents, Wes and Carrie. Great folks.

    John D

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  6. I was so sorry to hear about Glen Campbell's alzheimers, but I'm glad he's still aware enough to mount a farewell tour. I've read that he was one of the musicians playing on the Monkees's first album and also did some work with the Beach Boys (and probably a lot of other uncredited session work).

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  7. He toured with the Beach Boys for a while when Brian Wilson wasn't touring and sang Brian's falsetto parts.

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  8. I'd give my right arm to play guitar like him. Always loved his voice and his TV show was one I never missed.

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