Glen Campbell was a superb guitar player who most certainly knew how to shred those guitar strings. Most folks don't know that he got his start as a session musician in Los Angeles, using his guitarist abilities to make a name for himself as a singer, songwriter, and tv show host on The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour. His chops earned him a spot in the Wrecking Crew, a legendary session band that played on countless hit songs. He was even a fill in on bass for The Beach Boys when Brian Wilson wasn't available to make it to the state in 1964-1965.
His musicality opened up a prolific solo career that spanned decades and incredible albums including Wichita Lineman, Rhinestone Cowboy, Galveston, Arkansas, Southern Nights, and By The Time I Get To Phoenix. Dolly Parton, in her remembrance of Glen, said that he could play anything he wanted. He made everything look and sound so easy.
Campbell was so skilled, he played on multiple tracks for various artists that might surprise you. From Frank Sinatra, Merle Haggard, Elvis Presley, The Monkees, Roger Miller, and Nat King Cole, you can hear that string guitar played by none other than Campbell. While he never made an album with Jerry Reed, he did collaborate with Jimmy Webb on Glen Campbell and Jimmy Webb: In Session.
As you reflect on Campbell's legacy, "Gentle on My Mind" is surely one of his signature hits that comes to mind. Decades after the song had become a classic, Campbell appeared on a TNN TV special to perform it for an audience of country music legends, including Chet Atkins, Roy Clark, Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson and more.
Watch the look on their faces when Glen the guitar break.
In 2011, he was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease, which would later rob his ability to play and sing. Shortly after his diagnosis, he began recording his final album, Adios, which was released earlier this summer.
The music video for the title track ends with a poignant send-off. A musician character symbolizing Glen lights a guitar on fire and lets it drift into the sea. The video's director, Peter Zavaldi, explained its significance.
"The guitar is a symbol of Glen's legacy... a 'spiritual baton' as it were, carried on by all those influenced by his music, beginning with one of his daughters and ending with one of his grandsons. The fact that no one will ever hold a match to Glen's skill on the guitar is memorialized by giving his guitar a proper 'Viking Funeral' on the California coast."