Happy Birthday to Glen Campbell, who turns 81 on Saturday (April 22nd)!!! Campbell is best remembered for his string of 1960’s and ’70s Top 40 hits, including the Top Tens “Wichita Lineman” and “Galveston,” and the Number Ones “Rhinestone Cowboy” and “Southern Nights.” On June 9th, Campbell’s family will release his final collection of studio recordings, titled Adios. The project, which was recorded after Campbell’s final 2011 “Goodbye Tour” features appearances by Willie Nelson and Vince Gill, as well as Campbell’s children, Ashley, Shannon and Cal.
Campbell announced back in 2011 that he was suffering from the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease. In 2014 it was announced that the legendary musician had been moved into an Alzheimer’s facility. His 2012 “Goodbye” tour was filmed, which along with his behind the scenes fight life with Alzheimer’s, formed the basis of the critically acclaimed CNN documentary Glen Campbell. . . I’ll Be Me. The doc’s theme song, co-written by Campbell, “I’m Not Gonna Miss You” was nominated for the Grammy for Best Original Song.
In 2011, Campbell defied the odds and released his last original studio set, Ghost On The Canvas. Among the guest stars on the new set are Jakob Dylan, Chris Isaak, Dandy Warhols, Paul Westerberg, who wrote the album’s title track, and former Prince bandmate Wendy Melvoin — whose father Mike Melvoin, worked numerous sessions with Campbell in the ’60s. Campbell performed his final concert on November 30th, 2012 in Napa, California.
- In 2008 he released the critically acclaimed album, Meeting Glen Campbell, which featured such cover tunes as John Lennon‘s “Grow Old With Me,” Green Day‘s “Good Riddance (Time Of Your Life),” U2‘s “All I Want Is You,” Foo Fighters‘ “Times Like These,” the Replacements‘ “Sadly Beautiful,” Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers‘ “Walls,” and the Velvet Underground‘s “Jesus,” among others.
- Glenn Campbell was born in Delight, Arkansas, one of 12 children. In 1958, after years of working the club circuits, Campbell headed west and almost immediately found work as a session guitarist in Los Angeles. He says that music came so naturally to him that he never thought much about it, beyond the joy of playing it: “I never really started out to be anything. Country (or) rock, pop — I didn’t do it. I was going to be a guitar player. It never entered my mind that I would be a singer cutting records and singing on the radio. I was basically a guitar player (first).”
- Campbell told us he credits his Arkansas upbringing for turning him into the guitarist he eventually became: “Uncle Boo — he’s the one that taught me that. ‘Cause he used to play so fast. I don’t play so fast now. I could, just ’cause of what he taught me to do. He’d have me doing calisthenics, y’know.”
- Prior to solo fame, Campbell was part of the elite group of top studio session players in L.A. called “the Wrecking Crew” and performed on many of the hit singles recorded in Hollywood from the late 1950’s through the early 1970’s, including tracks by the Ronettes, the Beach Boys, the Monkees, Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra, Leslie Gore, Paul Revere & the Raiders, the Righteous Brothers, Sonny & Cher, Jan & Dean, Gary Lewis & the Playboys and many of Phil Spector‘s classic ’60s “Wall Of Sound” productions.
- Campbell says that every one of the “Wrecking Crew” players deserves to be inducted in the “sideman” category included on each year’s ballot for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame: “Well, they should get it, because they had the talent. And there were more records that came out of Los Angeles and the studios there in the ’60s than any studio in the world. And it was basically the same group of people playing on all of those records.”
- One regret Campbell will always have was how his 1977 chart-topping cover of Allen Toussaint‘s hook-driven “Southern Nights” ended up: “I never told anybody this; I really messed up on ‘Southern Nights.’ I sped it up. I’m talking on the mastering, and it made my voice (sings highly) ‘Southern Nights’ — y’know?”
- Glen Campbell gave us the backstory on his 1969 Top Five classic, “Galveston” — a tune most people feel is his masterpiece: “Don Ho brought me a cut of ‘Galveston.’ And I really took something great away from that, because he gave me that album and I played it — and it was ‘Galveston,’ the Jimmy Webb song — and I had not heard it. But Don Ho had done it (imitates Don Ho) ‘Galveston, oh Galveston’ — y’know, that slow. When I find a song that’s telling a story — a great story, just say it and get out of the way. Don’t try to sing the song, just try to tell the story in tune is kind of the way I look at it.”
GLEN CAMPBELL FAST FACTS
- In late 1964 Glen Campbell temporarily replaced Beach Boy Brian Wilson on the road after Wilson suffered his first nervous breakdown.
- Over the years Campbell has become a household name, after a 1969 star turn opposite John Wayne in True Grit, and later that year starring in his own variety show, The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour, which ran on CBS until 1972.
- In 2005, at the Country Music Association Awards, Campbell was officially inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.
- Over the years, Campbell has publicly battled against alcohol and substance abuse. In 2004, he served a 10-day sentence in a Phoenix County jail for a DUI conviction.
- In 2006, Campbell’s 1967 recording of “By The Time I Get To Phoenix” was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.