Although he was neither a Music Row nor a Bakersfield creation, Glen Campbell remains one of the major figures in the development of modern country music. Today is the second anniversary of Campbell’s death from complications of Alzheimer’s Disease.
The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour, which ran on CBS-TV from January 1969 through June 1972, never billed itself as a country show — and it wasn’t. But it gave the genre a major shot in the arm via Campbell’s fully-displayed rural Arkansas upbringing, his high, engaging voice and stunning guitar playing and the parade of country and country-flavored guest performers he showcased.
Among those guests — who generally sang duets with Campbell — were Ray Charles, Johnny Cash (a fellow Arkansan who helmed his own influential network show), Linda Ronstadt, Bobbie Gentry, Jerry Reed, Rick Nelson, Roger Miller, Cher, B.J. Thomas, Anne Murray, the Smothers Brothers, John Hartford and a beardless and neatly-combed Willie Nelson.
In those turbulent times when the war in Vietnam was shattering the nation, Campbell’s show offered an apolitical and feel-good menu that seemed to bring people of all stripes together, at least for the hour. Throughout it all, Campbell just kept on picking and grinning to his own internal metronome. About the closest he came to even acknowledging the war was when he sang Jimmy Webb’s heart-rending ballad of separation, “Galveston.”
In the years ahead, Campbell would score such No. 1 and Top 5 country hits as “Rhinestone Cowboy,” “Southern Nights,” “Country Boy (You’ve Got Your Feet in L. A.),” “A Lady Like You” and “Still Within the Sound of My Voice.”
Perhaps because he was never a part of the Nashville fame-making machine, Campbell wasn’t inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame until 2005, nearly four decades after he had made his greatest impact.
In 2010, Campbell was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. He continued to record and tour until early 2013. His final album, Adiós, compiled from his 2012-2013 recordings, was released in 2017.
Look for a new museum celebrating his life and career in downtown Nashville in early 2020.