He was born about an hour from where I was. A little southwest of Little Rock, down Interstate 30 in Arkansas. I was five years old when his first hit, “By The Time I Get To Phoenix”, hit the airwaves. Long before he or I actually lived there. He doesn’t live here anymore… Glen Campbell died this last week. And it’s been Gentle On My Mind.
Living life in the spot light has to be difficult. Fame has its price with plenty of trappings along the way. I appreciate the price Campbell paid, ’cause I appreciate his music.
Gentle On My Mind came out that same year as By The Time I Get To Phoenix did in 1967. Wichita Lineman followed in ’68 and Galveston in ’69. His mid-seventies hits, like Southern Nights, Country Boy You Got Your Feet In LA, and Rhinestone Cowboy were pretty good, but those first hits are so memorable for me I even have them on my I-Pod.What most people don’t know about Glenn Campbell is that he was considered to be one of the top five guitar players in the world – country or rock. Eddy Van Halen tried to get lessons from him.
Before he was a household name, Campbell played guitar for lots of other folks. People like The Righteous Brothers, Merle Haggard, Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley, Roger Miller, The Monkees, and The Beach Boys. He even toured with The Beach Boys for a short time after having played on the albums that made them famous.
Campbell had his demons to fight. And he did most of it in the spotlight. Drugs, alcohol, a weakness for women were his demons, but in time, and with the help of God, he beat them. His unlikely local pal Alice Cooper vouches for him.
Deep into his battle with Alzheimer’s, his family supported and guided him. He toured right up till the end and released his last album, a farewell record titled “Adios”, on June 9th of this year.
Even with his mind slipping, a guitar in Campbell’s hands was like breathing. His fingers did what they’d always done; use his God given gift of music and playing guitar.
A lot of people speculate about which musicians we’ll get to hear again in heaven. Glen Campbell will definitely be one of them.
Glen Campbell is a good reminder for all of us. Despite his flaws and shortcomings, he grasped God’s amazing grace.
Those famous lyrics are now for the Father,
That YOU’RE waitin’ from the back roads
By the rivers of my memories
Ever smilin’ ever Gentle On My Mind