Thoughts on the late lamented Glen Campbell.
THERE ARE PEOPLE we know as great guitarists, and there are those we know as something else but then discover them to be great guitarists too. Thus it was with me and Glen Campbell, who sadly died on 8th August. Who couldn’t love the Jimmy Webb songs with which he made his name - By The Time I Get To Phoenix, Wichita Lineman, Galveston etc - with those gorgeous arrangements and Glen’s rich and expressive voice?
But in the late 70s I saw him on the BBC’s Diane Soloman Show on TV, and realised he was also an awesome picker (weirdly, I played in Diane’s band for about five years but couldn’t make the UK tour that she did with Glen). It seemed he could play anything, from hot Nashville country to lovely jazz, and a dollop of rock shred too.
Having watched Glen in action I did a bit of boning up on his career. I found out that he’d been a member of the Wrecking Crew session syndicate - so named because these young bucks came from nowhere and ‘wrecked’ the comfortable situation that had prevailed among studio musicians. This amazing bunch, including bassist Carol Kaye, drummer Hal Blaine, keysman Leon Russell and many others, created Phil Spector’s ‘wall of sound’ You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’, Be My Baby and so on - as well as providing backing for The Beach Boys, Sinatra, Elvis, The Byrds, The Monkees and so many others. Glen was right in the thick of it, and probably played dozens of the licks that we sing along to every day on all those great songs. I love the story where Jimmy Webb sent him the unfinished Wichita Lineman. In such a hurry to finish the song, he grabbed Carol Kaye’s Danelectro baritone guitar and filled the ‘empty’ third verse with that deep and memorable solo. Look out for a feature on this remarkable player next month.