"I think I practiced my trade enough, which is singing and playing, being a musician and a singer, to have people recognize that and call me. You know, it's like if they call you to build a house and you don't know how to build a house, you're not going to get the job. I was ready when I was called to do something; I could do it musically. I didn't limit my talent by pursuing one particular kind of music. I didn't limit it by pursuing Jazz or pursuing Country or pursuing Pop. Music was my world before they started putting a label on it..." GLEN CAMPBELL
There's a saying which goes, "you can't judge a book by the cover". Such was the case with Glen Travis Campbell. It was almost as if he was intentionally showcased as one dimensional: just a clean cut country boy from a small community around Delight, Arkansas with an acoustic guitar.
I remember Glen Campbell growing up, his television show and his many appearances on the the small screen, but there were so many different layers to his musical persona.
To me, his altruistic image with his "song/stories", gave a real life perspective of the ordinary country Joe just trying to survive. Soulfully complacent in delivery, he touched many lives when he poured his heart into vocalizing and playing.
The song that most moved me was Jimmy Webb's. Wichita Lineman. I love country music. It speaks of the everyday trials and triumphs of living. And while most may believe that country music is just about a twangy sounding vocal, and steel string guitars, think again.
Glen Campbell was a true crossover, pop-country artist. Everyone could relate to the songs he brought to life through his vocals....He wasn't a vocal acrobat, not drummed up with technique but qualitatively simply singing...Singing as the songs in his repertoire ought to be sang with the impetus to get the listener at the core the song's soul. He had a natural talent for the guitar and learned to play on a $5 Sears and Roebuck guitar which his father bought for him when he was 4 years old.
His prowess in the mainstream seems highly underrated. And he wore more than a country hat in the music industry. For over a decade, Campbell was one of the most sought after guitarists on the west coast. He was part of a group of top flight session players nicknamed "The Wrecking Crew" who traveled from studio to studio in the Los Angeles area during the 60s and 70s. The group consisted of guitarist Tommy Tedesco, bassist Carol Kaye, guitarist Glen Campbell, and drummer Hal Blaine. These musicians were the spark of many historic hits from the real school.
The Byrds didn't record the instrumental tracks on Mr. Tambourine Man it was the Wrecking Crew, and it only took them three hours to do it.
The Wrecking Crew backed up Frank Sinatra on “Strangers in the Night”, Nancy Sinatra “These Boots Are Made for Walkin’,” The "Crew" was also the band behind Simon & Garfunkel’s “Bridge Over Troubled Water”, and Sonny & Cher’s “I Got You Babe” , The Ronettes “Be My Baby,” and Sam Cooke was “Twistin’ the Night Away", Shelley Fabares 1962 hit "Johnny Angel" and River Deep Mountain High" with Ike and Tina Turner.
While Tina Turner sang the song and it was credited as Ike and Tina Turner, Ike had nothing at all to do with the production. As part of the deal to keep Ike away, Phil Spector credited Ike on the recording. The single alone cost about $22k to make and is Spector's most proficient production.
These are only a few of the songs credited to The Wrecking Crew. They were the foundation of many of the hits that we all know and recognize from the real school and as the listening public we had no idea that they were at core of it all. The Wrecking Crew documentary is available on Netflix. And is a music trivia stunner.
When Brian Wilson retired from touring to work in studio in 1964, the band recruited Glen Campbell to fill in on bass guitar and high harmonies in their live performances. Campbell toured with the group for a year until he returned to the studio as session player which proved to be more financially lucrative.
Glen Campbell's guitar worked on several Beach Boys recordings, including , "Pet Sounds".
(Left to right - CARL WILSON, MIKE LOVE, GLEN CAMPBELL, DENNIS WILSON and AL JARDINE)
Sadly, just as he reached his 78th birthday on April 22, Mr. Campbell was moved to an Alzheimer's facility. Following his diagnosis in 2011, he fought the good fight and moved forward with dignity towards his goodbye tour. However, the disease was bigger than his fight. And while he would have continued on with that crystal clear tenor and extraordinary guitar work which made him an exemplary stand out in his field, he moved forward in the winter of his life leaving us a legacy that has been immortalized through his many recordings and video performances.
He courageously forged ahead in documenting his last tour in the 2014 film "I'll Be Me."(On Netflix) It is one of the bravest undertakings that any individual in the public eye can do. The endeavor was heart warming as well as heart breaking, yet at the same time, enlightening.
It is my sincere hope that after reading this issue of RSP, you will hear the name Glen Campbell and you will remember more than the legacy of a Rhine Stone cowboy, but the fascinating trivia of his life as a musician, television personality, actor and human being.