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|GLEN CAMPBELL DIES AT 81
August 08, 2017 - Various / Elvis Express Radio
|Glen Travis Campbell brought country music to new audiences. He found success as a session musician before embarking on a solo career that included smashes Gentle On My
Mind, Galveston, Wichita Lineman and Rhinestone Cowboy and that landed him in the Country Music Hall of Fame.
AN ELVIS ASSOCIATION (thanks to Elvis Australia)
Glen had a recording session with Elvis and is listed as a participant on the Viva Las Vegas soundtrack and also on the 'B' side of the 45 containing 'What'd I Say', in 1963.
Glen also played and sang demos for Elvis on the following three songs: 'Slowly But Surely', 'Stay Away Joe' and 'All I Need Is the Rain'. On the final cuts it was Elvis & his music,
nothing to do with Glen. It is not known what became of those demos and how Glen was paid. Richard Davis thinks the acetates are probably with Graceland, althoughy EP
Enterprises ssay they do not have them, and suggest Glen himself has these.
EP Enterprises also stands to the story that Red West targeted Glen for $20 per demo session in hopes of picking up and actually changing the music pace of Elvis' career. They
base it upon an extensive book by Ernst Jorgensen called Elvis Presley : A Life in Music. (The book also lists Glen playing on many other demos with Charlie Hodge and Red West -
but nothing available as a purchase.)
According to Richard Davis, Glen never worked on any of Elvis' recording sessions as a background musician. As for the demo recordings, he mentioned Glen did a lot of demos for
Elvis and that Elvis would listen to them in consideration of recording them. To his knowledge, Glen was never hired by Red West but that Glen apparently went into the recording
studio on his own and recorded the demos which were sent to RCA and then to Elvis' publishing company for consideration to be released as singles or soundtracks for movies.
Richard also states that Elvis and Glen did become friends later on in life and one night Glen and Tom Jones came to Elvis' suite at the International Hotel while Elvis was
performing. Glen, Tom Jones and Elvis did jam that night for a couple of hours, but no recordings were made to his knowledge. He also stated that 'Glen is indeed a great artist and
that Elvis is one of the greatest that have ever lived'.
Campbell died Tuesday at 81, according to his Universal Music publicist, Tim Plumley.
Plumley issued this statement from Campbell's family: "It is with the heaviest of hearts that we announce the passing of our beloved husband, father, grandfather, and legendary
singer and guitarist, Glen Travis Campbell, at the age of 81, following his long and courageous battle with Alzheimer's disease."
Campbell was born in Delight, Ark., the seventh son of a seventh son in a farming family.
"I spent the early parts of my life looking at the north end of a southbound mule and it didn't take long to figure out that a guitar was a lot lighter than a plow handle," he said in a
late 1970s press bio.
Each member of Campbell's family played guitar, and he received a $5 Sears & Roebuck guitar when he was 4 years old. By 6, he was a prodigy, internalizing music that ranged
from simple country to sophisticated jazz. He dropped out of school in the 10th grade, left Arkansas and played in a New Mexico-based band led by his uncle, Dick Bills. He also
married first wife Diane Kirk, though that marriage lasted fewer than three years.
While playing an Albuquerque club called the Hitching Post, Campbell met Billie Nunley, who soon became his second wife. The newlyweds left for California in 1960, riding to Los
Angeles in a 1957 Chevrolet with $300 and a small trailer full of meager belongings. Campbell found work playing in rock groups including The Champs, a band that included Jim
Seals and Dash Crofts, who would later become the hit-making duo Seals & Crofts.
Campbell's guitar acumen and versatility made him an essential player on Los Angeles' thriving recording scene in the 1960s, and he contributed to sessions for Frank Sinatra,
Dean Martin, Rick Nelson, The Mamas and The Papas, Merle Haggard and many more. Campbell couldn’t read music, but he quickly became a respected, first-call player. He
played on Elvis Presley’s Viva Las Vegas, The Monkees’ I'm a Believer, Frank Sinatra’s Strangers in the Night and more. He played 12-string guitar on the Beach Boys’ Sloop John
B, and toured with the Beach Boys in 1965 as a replacement for the band’s troubled leader, Brian Wilson.
Campbell was invited to join the Beach Boys as a full-time member in 1965, but he declined. By then, he was set on establishing a solo career.
After recording a minor hit in 1961 with Turn Around - Look at Me , Campbell signed with Capitol Records, releasing Big Bluegrass Special by The Green River Boys Featuring Glen
Campbell in late 1962. His early albums received little attention or acclaim, but he broke into the mainstream in 1967, first with the Top 20 country hit Burning Bridges, but most
notably with a nimble version of his friend John Hartford's drifter's masterpiece Gentle On My Mind.
The song did not ascend to the top of the Billboard country charts, but it was performing rights organization BMI's most-played song of 1969 and 1970. In 1999, BMI ranked Gentle
as the second most-played country song of the century, and the 16th most-played song of the century in any genre.
Campbell’s affable stage presence and camera-ready looks made him a natural for television.
"Someday, in the very near future, this talented young man is going to have his own television show," said comedian Joey Bishop in 1967, introducing Campbell on a late-night
variety show. Tommy Smothers of musical comedy act The Smothers Brothers watched and listened with interest. He also watched as Campbell’s follow-up to Gentle, By the Time I
Get to Phoenix, reached No. 2 on the Billboard country chart and No. 26 on the all-genre chart. In early 1968, Campbell won two Grammy awards for his recording of Gentle On My
Mind and two more for By the Time I Get to Phoenix, and the Smothers Brothers announced that Campbell would host his own television show, nationally televised on CBS.
Campbell’s show began as The Summer Brothers Smothers Show, a summer replacement for The Smothers Brothers, and it ran as a weekly variety show from January of 1969
through June of 1972. Each week, Campbell would sing the opening lines of Gentle On My Mind and then announce to viewers that they were watching The Glen Campbell
“I had albums before that, but once the TV show started everything really took off,” Campbell told The (Nashville) Tennessean in 2005. “I used that show to get every country act I
could onto television.”
The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour featured much more than country. He performed Bob Dylan’s Blowin’ in the Wind with Stevie Wonder and Squares Make the World Go 'Round
with the Smothers and Nancy Sinatra. He brought on teen favorites The Monkees and West Coast country-rock singer Linda Ronstadt. He stood and snapped his fingers like Frank
Sinatra, and did a hip-shaking Elvis Presley impersonation.
Still, he made his country roots clear both on- and off-camera, helping himself to major country chart successes in 1968 with I Wanna Live (his first No. 1), Dreams of the Everyday
Housewife, (a No. 3 Billboard country hit) and his first cross-over smash, Wichita Lineman, which topped country and adult contemporary charts and landed at No. 3 on the pop
charts. Producer Al DeLory’s sophisticated arrangements complemented a soaring voice, and Campbell was at the forefront of a modern country movement.
“The change that has come over country music lately is simple,” he told TV Guide in 1969. “They’re not shuckin’ it right off the cob any more. … I think the public is getting tired of
all that crazy acid rock and wants to get back to good melodies. Country music has more impact now, because it’s earthy material — stories of things that happen to everyday
people. I call it ‘People Music.’ ”
In the late 1960s, the “People Music” business was booming. Campbell won Country Music Association awards for best entertainer and male vocalist, two Academy of Country Music
awards for best album and two more for male vocalist, and a total of five Grammy trophies. In 1969, buoyed by another Jimmy Webb-written gem, the soldier’s lament Galveston (a
No. 1 country and adult contemporary hit), Campbell out-sold the Beatles.
"Not since Elvis Presley's ascendancy more than a decade ago has a young soloist come along to capture the mass audience with such effectiveness as Glen Campbell," wrote
Vernon Scott of United Press International.
Campbell’s manager, Nick Sevano, arranged for the singer to act in movies including True Grit with John Wayne and Norwood with Kim Darby and Joe Namath, but Sevano battled
the Presley comparisons.
“I don’t think he’s a new Elvis,” Sevano told TV Guide. “I think Glen has a broader audience than Elvis.”
Four of Campbell’s singles reached country music’s Top 10 in 1970, but his sales domination began to subside in the new decade. CBS canceled his show in 1972, and his
marriage to Billie was in trouble. Campbell developed an over-fondness for Glenlivet scotch, and his dedication to touring and performing came at the expense of his recordings.
But in 1975, after more than six years without a No. 1 hit, Campbell staged a comeback with Rhinestone Cowboy. The song topped both country and pop charts, and re-
established Campbell as a hit-making, seat-filling force.
“I really just rode on the crest of that, to forget everything that was happening to Glen Campbell, personally,” Campbell told VH1’s Behind The Music.
Rhinestone Cowboy was a major anthem in the summer of 1975. In early fall, Billie Jean Campbell filed for divorce. By then, Campbell had, he would later reveal, started using
cocaine. That year, he also began dating Sarah Barg, the estranged wife of his friend and fellow performer, Mac Davis. He and Barg married in 1976, but Campbell’s cocaine use
continued to escalate and the relationship suffered.
“We were drinking and cocaining, and nothing lasts when you’re doing that,” he told VH1.
Campbell returned to the top of the charts in 1977 with Southern Nights, his final No. 1 hit. His behavior, though, was increasingly erratic. Campbell and Barg divorced in 1980, the
same year he began dating powerhouse singer Tanya Tucker. She was 21, he was 44. The couple announced an engagement in late 1980, but the relationship ended — angrily —
in early 1981. Campbell spent much of that year completely out of control, but a near-overdose in Las Vegas and a new relationship with a Radio City Music Hall Rockette named
Kimberley Woolen helped spur newfound faith and a change of direction.
“I accepted Jesus Christ on December the 21st, 1981,” he told The Tennessean. “I’m singin’ a new song.”
Campbell married Woolen in October 1982, and she would be a sustaining influence for the rest of his life. He dropped cocaine and eventually halted his drinking, and he reached
country music’s Top 10 with 1984’s Faithless Love and A Lady Like You, 1985’s (Love Always) Letter To Home and It’s Just A Matter of Time, 1987’s The Hand That Rocks the
Cradle (with Steve Wariner) and Still Within the Sound Of My Voice, 1988’s I Have You and 1989’s She’s Gone, Gone, Gone. He also aided Alan Jackson’s ascent to country music
stardom, suggesting Jackson move to Nashville and helping him to become a staff songwriter at his Glen Campbell Music publishing company.
The 1990s held no hits for Campbell, but he performed often, opening the Glen Campbell Goodtime Theatre in Branson in 1994 and starring there for three seasons. In 2003, he
was arrested near his Phoenix home on drunk driving, hit-and-run and assault charges. He later pled guilty to DUI, apologized to fans and entered a care facility. He was inducted
into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2005, by which time he was already showing signs of dementia, seeming shaky in interviews though he clearly understood and appreciated
“You can have ‘male vocalist’ and all that stuff,” he told The Tennessean. “I’ll take the Hall of Fame. It’s the highest honor you can have in country music, and this makes me feel so
Capitol Records released Campbell’s 60th studio album, the critically acclaimed Meet Glen Campbell, in 2008, with Campbell covering songs written by rock royalty including U2,
Lou Reed, Tom Petty and Dave Grohl. Meet Glen Campbell provided music fans a reintroduction to Campbell’s musicality, with his still-strong voice and still-potent guitar.
In 2011, Campbell and his wife announced that he was suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, but that he would release a new album and go on a Goodbye Tour while he could still
perform. The new album was praised by Will Hermes of Rolling Stone as “baroquely arranged drama that echos his string-swelled seventies hits. … Dude’s definitely not going out
Campbell played his final Nashville show in January 2012, performing at the Ryman Auditorium with a band that included three of his children. He opened with Gentle On My Mind,
played many of his hits and thrilled the audience.
“Campbell remained in fine voice and proved to still be a staggeringly sharp and fluid guitarist, wowing the crowd early on with an explosive solo on Gentle and muscular melodic
licks on his classic Galveston,” wrote Dave Paulson of The Tennessean.
He read lyrics from a Teleprompter that night, but imbued each song with significant feeling.
“An encore in the tightly scripted show wasn’t a sure thing,” Paulson wrote. “But Campbell returned to the room’s delight for In My Arms — another affirming cut from Canvas —
before taking bows with his band and giving his crowd a last — and clearly loving — wave goodbye.”
At the Grammy Awards in February 2012, The Band Perry performed Gentle On My Mind, and Blake Shelton sang Southern Nights before Campbell took the stage to sing
Rhinestone Cowboy, with Paul McCartney pumping his fist from the audience in approval.
Campbell played his final show on Nov. 30, 2012, in California. Early in 2014, he appeared at the venerable Station Inn to watch daughter Ashley Campbell perform with his old
friend, Carl Jackson. In April of 2014, his family confirmed that Campbell was staying in a Middle Tennessee memory-care facility.
“There’s a lot of sadness, (but) we just continue to try to make the best of every day and keep a sense of humor,” his wife told People.
In June, Campbell released his final album, Adios, which was produced by his former bandmate and longtime friend Carl Jackson. The bittersweet record includes a duet with fellow
legend Willie Nelson on Funny How Time Slips Away. Vince Gill contributes harmony vocals to Am I All Alone (Or Is It Only Me). Ashley Campbell appears on several tracks, including
Postcard From Paris, which also features sons Cal and Shannon Campbell.
Campbell is survived by his wife, Kim Campbell of Nashville; their three children, Cal, Shannon and Ashley; his children from previous marriages, Debby, Kelli, Travis, Kane and
Dillon; ten grandchildren, great- and great-great-grandchildren; sisters Barbara, Sandra and Jane; and brothers John Wallace “Shorty” and Gerald.
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