Herald JournalHerald Journal, May 23, 2005

Exclusive interview with Glen Campbell

By Ryan Gueningsman
Staff Writer

“Like a Rhinestone Cowboy . . .”

With those four words, and a popular television show as well, Glen Campbell has come a long way from his humble Arkansas upbringing.

“The guitar felt better to me than drivin’ the cultivator,” he said. Campbell moved to Los Angeles at a young age and was able to be a part of a session player “movement.”

“I don’t know really how it started, but I got in with a mix of guys called the ‘Wreckin Crew,’ and we did sessions for everybody. It was just one of those incredible things that happened when I got there,” he said.

“Everybody” includes doing work for people like Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Nat King Cole, Merle Haggard, and The Beach Boys. Campbell was even a part of The Beach Boys for 18 months in the mid-1960s until his own solo career took off.

“The fun ones were the huge orchestras where we were doing movie themes,” he said. “All the good string players were there doing the background, or theme song, for the movie. Everybody was so good talent-wise, and knowing their instruments, and it really was fun.”

“I’ve found the better a person plays or sings or whatever – unless he’s got a real lot of hang ups – he’s a very happy person,” Campbell said.

Campbell considers himself almost spoiled to grow up in that atmosphere and be a part of the “Wreckin’ Crew.”

As his career was beginning to take off, he had the opportunity to host his own television show, “The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour.”

“It was the beginning of the big crossover,” Campbell said of his television show. “It was just starting then. I had Waylon on the show . . . Willie . . . Jerry Reed – I had every country act they’d let me have on the show because there was depth there. They were great musicians.”

Because it was a variety show, he also had acts like The Monkees, Lucille Ball, Ella Fitzgerald, and countless other nationally known entertainers.

Campbell played on several of The Monkees records, and jokes with them “that’s the only reason ‘I’m a Believer’ was a hit is because I played on it,” he said with a laugh. “They were really nice guys.”

He cited demographics as the downfall to the television show, noting he was at number two or three in New York and Philadelphia, but number one throughout a majority of the south.

“Demographics actually play a big part, and if you don’t carry a New York or Chicago and Philly, they take a look at you,” he said.

A combination of the show’s demographics, in addition to three-and-a-half years of doing the show, led Campbell to decide it was time to move on, and “not be nailed down so much.”

He had a hit with “True Grit,” which was recorded for the movie he starred in with John Wayne. Through the next decade he had hits like “Southern Nights,” and in 1975, perhaps one of his most notable songs, “Rhinestone Cowboy.”

“I like it,” he said of “Rhinestone Cowboy.” “It’s upbeat and fun to play. It reminds me ‘don’t get too big for your britches.’”

Another of his songs went on to garner an honor that few people receive.

“‘Wichita Lineman’ was the most played song on the radio for the millennium,” Campbell said. “I went back with (the song’s writer) Jimmy Webb (to Washington, D.C.) and sang it in the House of Representatives. Jimmy got the award for the most played song of the millennium.”

During his 40 years in show business, Campbell released more than 70 albums, has sold 45 million records, and has also branched his wings into the Gospel genre, winning a Dove award in the early-1990s. He also recently released a Christmas album.

This summer, Campbell said he is trying to cut back on the number of shows and appearances he does because he and his family are moving from Phoenix back to California.

“Our daughter is going to Pepperdine, so we’re going to go see what it’s like out there for a while,” he said, noting he found a home overlooking the ocean near Malibu.

Another enjoyment of Campbell’s is hitting the golf courses, and perfecting his craft. Shortly following our interview, Campbell had a tee time set at a course he frequents in Phoenix.

Campbell was told about Winstock’s camp site contest theme this year being “Rhinestone Cowboy,” and said he’ll probably see everyone running around with rhinestones on. He said if he had to decorate a campsite according to the theme “Rhinestone Cowboy,” he’s not quite sure what he would come up with.

“Boy, I don’t know. My creative juices aren’t flowing this early in the morning,” he said with a laugh. “I sure will check it out though.”

He said he did several shows in Minnesota last winter at Northern Lights Casino.

“Good old Minnesota,” Campbell said. “I’m glad the winter is over. I was up there this summer and got snowed in. It was so cold I saw chickens with a cape on,” he said with a laugh.

Winstock 2005 performer Glen Campbell called for a pre-Winstock interview this April. He is scheduled to take the stage at Winstock Saturday, June 4 at 4:15 p.m.

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