The first time I became really aware with Glen Campbell was when he became the host of something called the Summer Brothers Smother Show, the summer replacement for the Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour in late June through early September 1968. It even featured the Smothers’ Presidential “candidate” Pat Paulsen. I watched it and liked it.
He had already had a couple crossover hits: Gentle on My Mind was penned by John Hartford, a regular on the show. By the Time I Get To Phoenix was written, as many of Glen’s recordings were, by Jimmy Webb. Plus he had a couple country hits.
Then he starred in the Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour from January 1969 to June 1972, which I also viewed. It coincided with more hits such as Wichita Lineman, which has possibly THE most romantic couplet in pop music. Also Galveston, the Texas city I visited in 1995 or 1996 and kept singing in my head.
Sometime around this time, I learned that he had filled in for Brian Wilson on the Beach Boys tours for six months in the 1960s, and I thought that was cool.
I never saw him in the movie TRUE GRIT with John Wayne, for which the Duke won an Oscar. And I stopped paying attention to him as he went through what my buddy Johnny Bacardi called “his excessive wild man ’70s and ’80s-up phases, coke, and Tanya Tucker and all that nonsense.” But like Johnny, I learned he was part of the legendary Wrecking Crew of session musicians, and I developed a huge, newfound respect for him.
In this 2007 interview, Glen Campbell discusses his forgetfulness, which he attributed to his wild lifestyle of the past. But in 2011, it was announced that he had Alzheimer’s disease.
Then he, along with three of his six children, went on one final tour, recorded for the documentary Glen Campbell: I’ll Be Me, which I thought was extraordinary.
On Facebook, Jimmy Webb wrote: “I watched him in awe executing his flawless rendition of ‘“The William Tell Overture’ on his classical guitar in his Vegas show. Jazz he loved. He claimed he learned the most about playing the guitar from Django Reinhardt.”
Gentle on My Mind, pop #62 in 1967, #39 in 1968; country #30 in 1967, #44 in 1968
By the Time I Get To Phoenix, pop #26, country #2 in 1968
Galveston, pop #4, country #1 for three weeks in 1969
Rhinestone Cowboy, pop #1 for two weeks, country #1 for three weeks, his signature song
Some Dustbury links, including Adios, recorded in 2015 but released in July 2017.