Wednesday, August 09, 2017

EDITORIAL >> Glen Campbell, R.I.P.

Paraphrasing the words from Donnie and Marie, he was a little bit country, he was a little bit rock and roll and Glen Campbell was certainly all entertainer.

Campbell, 81, born in the Billstown community (Pike County), died Tuesday after a long bout with Alzheimer’s disease.

In the late 1960s and early 70s it really didn’t make any difference what radio station one listened to, Glen Campbell would be on it as his music was on the country side of the radio dial as well as the rock side.

He sold more than 45 million records in his career and topped the country singles chart 12 times. In 1967, he won four Grammy Awards, two in the country category and two in the pop category. He had his own musical variety TV show for three years, “The Glenn Campbell Good Time Hour,” starred with John Wayne in “True Grit” and even worked with Elvis and toured as a Beach Boy.

Not bad for an Arkansas boy who left home and his 11 siblings when he was 14 to make it big in Los Angeles. But it wasn’t all sweet music for Campbell. Even though he was a well-respected session musician he had a hard time breaking into a solo career.

There was a time in Phoenix, Ariz., when he opened for then-country superstar Hank Snow and all through his set there were sound problems, and he had to stay on and sing even longer through all the crackles so the sound would be right for the headliner.

Then in the late 60s, his record label came close to dropping him. Luckily, Capitol was a little slow in pulling the trigger. In 1967, Campbell and Jimmy Webb collaborated on “Gentle on My Mind.”

After that hit, Campbell managed to rack up seven consecutive country album chart-toppers over a two-year period.

As soft, sweet and harmonic as much of his music was, in real life it was the opposite as he had a violent streak, and he struggled with drugs and alcohol for most of his life. He found peace with his fourth wife.

But it’s not his troubled personal life that we will remember, but the songs that we all sing. Those tunes, when one starts humming or singing, everyone in earshot joins in. Who can resist “Gentle on My Mind,” “By the Time I Get to Phoenix,” “Wichita Lineman” and “Rhinestone Cowboy”?

We hope that as he runs into his many musical friends who passed on before him, that they all see his infectious smile and clap along as he plucks away on his 12-string guitar. —Rick Kron