RE­MEM­BER­ING

Cape Breton Post - - Cape Breton - BY KRISTIN M. HALL

Glen Camp­bell, su­per­star of 1960s and ‘70s, dies.

Glen Camp­bell, the grin­ning, high-pitched en­ter­tainer whose dozens of hit sin­gles in­cluded “Rhine­stone Cow­boy” and “Wi­chita Line­man” and whose ap­peal spanned coun­try, pop, tele­vi­sion and movies, died Tues­day, his fam­ily said. He was 81.

Camp­bell’s fam­ily said the singer died Tues­day morn­ing in Nashville and pub­li­cist Sandy Brokaw con­firmed the news. No cause was im­me­di­ately given. Camp­bell an­nounced in June 2011 that he had been di­ag­nosed with Alzheimer’s dis­ease and that it was in its early stages at that time.

In the late 1960s and well into the ‘70s, the Arkansas na­tive seemed to be ev­ery­where, known by his boy­ish face, wavy hair and friendly tenor. He won five Gram­mys, sold more than 45 mil­lion records, had 12 gold al­bums and 75 chart hits, in­clud­ing No. 1 songs with “Rhine­stone Cow­boy” and “Southern Nights.”

His per­for­mance of the ti­tle song from “True Grit,” a 1969 re­lease in which he played a Texas Ranger along­side Os­car win­ner John Wayne, re­ceived an Academy Award nom­i­na­tion. He twice won al­bum of the year awards from the Academy of Coun­try Mu­sic and was voted into the Coun­try Mu­sic Hall of Fame in 2005. Seven years later, he re­ceived a Grammy for life­time achieve­ment.

He was among a wave of coun­try cross­over stars that in­cluded Johnny Cash, Roy Clark and Kenny Rogers, and like many of his con­tem­po­raries, he en­joyed suc­cess on tele­vi­sion. Camp­bell had a weekly au­di­ence of some 50 mil­lion peo­ple for the “Glen Camp­bell Good­time Hour,” on CBS from 1969 to 1972. He gained new fans decades later when the show, fea­tur­ing his cheer­ful greet­ing “Hi I’m Glen Camp­bell,” was re­run on ca­ble chan­nel CMT.

“I did what my Dad told me to do - ‘Be nice, son, and don’t cuss. And be nice to peo­ple.’ And that’s the way I han­dled my­self, and peo­ple were very, very nice to me,” Camp­bell told The Tele­graph in 2011.

He re­leased more than 70 of his own al­bums, and in the 1990s recorded a se­ries of gospel CDs. A 2011 farewell al­bum, “Ghost On the Can­vas,” in­cluded con­tri­bu­tions from Ja­cob Dy­lan, Rick Nielsen of Cheap Trick and Billy Cor­gan of Smash­ing Pump­kins.

The doc­u­men­tary “Glen Camp­bell ... I’ll Be Me” came out in 2014. The film about Camp­bell’s 2011-12 farewell tour of­fers a poignant look at his de­cline from Alzheimer’s while show­cas­ing his vir­tu­oso gui­tar chops that some­how con­tin­ued to shine as his mind un­rav­eled. The song “I’m Not Gonna Miss You” won a Grammy for best coun­try song in 2015 and was nom­i­nated for an Os­car for best orig­i­nal song.

Camp­bell’s mu­si­cal ca­reer dated back to the early years of rock ‘n roll. He toured with the Champs of “Tequila” fame when the group in­cluded two singers who formed the pop­u­lar ‘70s duo Seals & Crofts. He was part of the house band for the ABC TV show “Shindig!” and a mem­ber of Phil Spec­tor’s “Wreck­ing Crew” stu­dio band that played on hits by the Ronettes, the Right­eous Broth­ers and the Crys­tals. He played gui­tar on Frank Si­na­tra’s “Strangers In the Night,” the Mon­kees’ “I’m a Be­liever” and Elvis Pres­ley’s “Viva Las Ve­gas.”

“We’d get the rock ‘n’ roll guys and play all that, then we’d get Si­na­tra and Dean Martin,” Camp­bell told The Associated Press in 2011. “That was a kick. I re­ally en­joyed that. I didn’t want to go nowhere. I was mak­ing more money than I ever made just do­ing stu­dio work.”

A share­crop­per’s son, and one of 12 chil­dren, he was born out­side of De­light, Arkansas, and grew up rever­ing coun­try mu­sic stars such as Hank Wil­liams.

“I’m not a coun­try singer per se,” Camp­bell once said. “I’m a coun­try boy who sings.”

He was just 4 when he learned to play gui­tar. As a teenager, anx­ious to es­cape a life of farm work and un­paid bills, he moved to Albuquerque, New Mex­ico to join his un­cle’s band and ap­pear on his un­cle’s ra­dio show. By his early 20s, he had formed his own group, the Western Wran­glers, and moved to Los An­ge­les. He opened for the Doors and sang and played bass with the Beach Boys as a re­place­ment for Brian Wil­son, who in the mid-’60s had re­tired from tour­ing to con­cen­trate on stu­dio work. In 1966, Camp­bell played on the Beach Boys’ clas­sic “Pet Sounds” al­bum.

“I didn’t go to Nashville be­cause Nashville at that time seemed one-di­men­sional to me,” Camp­bell told the AP. “I’m a jazzer. I just love to get the gui­tar and play the hell out of it if I can.”

By the late ‘60s, he was a per­former on his own, an ap­pear­ance on Joey Bishop’s show lead­ing to his TV break­through. Tommy Smoth­ers of the Smoth­ers Broth­ers saw the pro­gram and asked Camp­bell if he’d like to host a sum­mer­time se­ries, “The Sum­mer Broth­ers Smoth­ers Show.” Camp­bell shied from the Smoth­ers Broth­ers’ po­lit­i­cal hu­mour, but still ac­cepted the of­fer. He was out of the coun­try when the first episode aired.

“The whole lid just blew off,” Camp­bell told the AP. “I had never had anything like that hap­pen to me. I got more phone calls. It was awe­some. For the first cou­ple of days I was like how do they know me? I didn’t re­al­ize the power of tele­vi­sion.”

His guests in­cluded coun­try acts, but also the Mon­kees, Lu­cille Ball, Cream, Neil Di­a­mond and Ella Fitzger­ald.

He was mar­ried four times and had eight chil­dren. As he would con­fide in painful de­tail, Camp­bell suf­fered for his fame and made oth­ers suf­fer as well. He drank heav­ily, used drugs and in­dulged in a tur­bu­lent re­la­tion­ship with coun­try singer Tanya Tucker in the early 1980s.

He is sur­vived by his wife, Kim; their three chil­dren, Cal, Shan­non and Ash­ley; and his chil­dren from pre­vi­ous mar­riages, Debby, Kelli, Travis, Kane and Dil­lon. He had 10 grand­chil­dren.

In late 2003, he was ar­rested near his home in Phoenix af­ter caus­ing a mi­nor traf­fic ac­ci­dent. He later pleaded guilty to “ex­treme” DUI and leav­ing the scene of an ac­ci­dent and served a 10-day sen­tence.

Among Camp­bell’s own hits, “Rhine­stone Cow­boy” stood out and be­came his per­sonal anthem. Writ­ten and recorded by Larry Weiss in 1974, “Rhine­stone Cow­boy” re­ceived lit­tle at­ten­tion un­til Camp­bell heard it on the ra­dio and quickly re­lated to the story of a vet­eran per­former who tri­umphs over de­spair and hard­ship. Camp­bell’s ver­sion was a chart top­per in 1975.

“I thought it was my au­to­bi­og­ra­phy set to song,” he wrote 20 years later, in his au­to­bi­og­ra­phy, ti­tled “Rhine­stone Cow­boy.”

AP PHOTO/DANNY JOHN­STON

This Sept. 6, 2012 file photo shows singer Glen Camp­bell per­form­ing dur­ing his Good­bye Tour in Lit­tle Rock, Ark. Camp­bell, the grin­ning, high­pitched en­ter­tainer who had such hits as “Rhine­stone Cow­boy” and spanned coun­try, pop, tele­vi­sion and movies, died Tues­day. He was 81. Camp­bell an­nounced in June 2011 that he had been di­ag­nosed with Alzheimer’s dis­ease.

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