Glen Campbell Still Sharp at 76 at The Hollywood Bowl
Diagnosed with altzheimer’s disease, I wasn’t sure what to expect from “The Glen Campbell Farewell Tour”. I have seen two of these shows now in the last 6 months, and both have been great. I hope this tour never ends, as his music means so much to so many people.
The Hollywood Bowl concert featured most of Glen’s hits pretty much in chronological order. He kicked it off with ‘Gentle On My Mind’, and wrapped it up with ‘Rhinestone Cowboy’, and ‘Southern Nights’. Glen well remembers, and actually chuckled about his one big acting role with John Wayne as he sang ‘True Grit’. The women in the audience still swoon when he hits the painful messages of ‘Wichita Lineman’ and ‘By The Time I Get To Phoenix’. Jimmy Webb wrote both classic gems, but to the world they are Glen Campbell songs.
Born in Delight Arkansa, a young Glen came to Hollywood in 1960, and first played with ‘The Champs’, shortly after they recorded ‘Tequila’. As part of the famous ‘Wrecking Crew’, Glen’s astounding 12 string guitar was heard on hundreds of hit songs in the early 1960’s. Similar to Motown’s Funk Bros, they played with a wide variety of artists including crooners: Ray Charles, Nat King Cole, Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin. Rock singers such as The Ronettes, The Monkees, The Crystals, The Righteous Bros, Nancy Sinatra, Mamas & Papas, Sonny & Cher, and even The Beach Boys. Glen actually WAS a Beach Boy for an 8 month tour in 1965, replacing Brian Wilson, and was featured on the iconic ‘Pet Sounds’ album. Phil Spector’s legendary ‘Wall Of Sound’ often featured Glen.
A frequent guest on The Smothers Brothers controversial variety hour in the late 60’s, Glen was a summer replacement for them in 1968. ‘The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour’ was appropriately named. It was full of fun, great music, and wonderful guests for several seasons. Glen was a mainstay on the pop charts from 1967 thru the 1970’s. He also had a prominent career in Country music for decades. Glen’s great voice, and brilliant guitar playing has covered all genres. He is definitely not a ‘one trick pony’.
Glen has also been associated with some of the most gorgeous and talented women performers of his era,including Tanya Tucker and Bobbie Gentry. He has won countless Grammy and CMA awards, and recorded over 70 albums. His latest is surprisingly one of his best. ‘Ghost In The Canvas’ was released last year, and the excellence of it spawned the Farewell Tour. One of the songs from it will be last one he ever sings on stage. The poignant and prophetic ballad is called ‘A Better Place’.
Glen is backed by an excellent band that includes two of his sons, (Shannon on Guitar and Cal on drums),and is fronted by daughter Ashley. A Pepperdine grad, she is an excellent banjo player. This was proven on stage as she dueled with dad brilliantly on the ‘Deliverance’ theme, ‘Dueling Banjos’. Talent must run in the blood, as Ashley is also a very good singer. She & brother Shannon peformed “Hey Little One”, a hit by her dad in 1968.
Jackson Browne and Jenny Lewis re-created Glen & Bobbie Gentry’s” cover of The Everly Bros “Let It Be Me” to kick off the show, and were later joined by the legendary Kris Kristofferson, who freely admitted that Glen had recorded Jimmy Webb’s ‘Highwayman’ way before he had made it a standard with Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson and Johnny Cash. Seeing both Glen Campbell AND The Beach Boys in concert just a few days apart, I felt like the soundtrack of my life was being played on The Hollywood Bowl stage. I hope The Farewell Tour never ends. I love this guy.
-Bill Dudley, 94.7 The WAVE