Michael Loccisano, WireImage As Glen Campbell continues to fight against the…
- Posted on Aug 30th 2011 3:00PM by James Sullivan
Roberta Parkin, Redferns
But Campbell was once one of the country's biggest stars, with hits such as 'Wichita Lineman' and 'Galveston' and his own primetime TV show. His two mid-'70s No. 1 hits, 'Rhinestone Cowboy' and 'Southern Nights,' almost singlehandedly moved country music out of the backwoods honky-tonks and into middle-class living rooms across the nation.
And Campbell's pitch-perfect singing and astonishing guitar playing made him a Hollywood legend from an early age. With the famed Wrecking Crew session group, he played on Frank Sinatra's 'Strangers in the Night,' the Righteous Brothers' 'You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin',' the Monkees' 'Last Train to Clarksville' and countless other hits. When Brian Wilson stopped touring with the Beach Boys, the young man from rural Arkansas was his replacement. In between all these successes, Campbell had years-long bouts with alcoholism and cocaine abuse.
It's been an epic life -- so much so that James Keach, who produced the Johnny Cash biopic 'Walk the Line,' has just signed on to develop a movie based on Campbell's story.
Raymond, who is 42, remembers Campbell from his childhood, when he watched the singer's TV show. "I'm a huge fan," he tells Spinner, "and I wanted to get him ramped back up."
They worked together on 2008's 'Meet Glen Campbell,' an unusual collection that paired the singer with songs by musicians younger by a generation (Tom Petty, U2, Lou Reed), and sometimes two (Foo Fighters, Green Day). On Tuesday they will release their second collaboration, 'Ghost on the Canvas' (Surfdog), with original songs, 'Pet Sounds'-style interludes and contributions from admirers including Paul Westerberg, Billy Corgan, Robert Pollard, Jakob Dylan and Cheap Trick's Rick Nielsen, among others.
Guest vocalist Chris Isaak first met Campbell when he appeared on 'The Chris Isaak Show.' "I have tremendous admiration for a guy who can throw down on guitar," as Campbell still does, says Isaak. "He came out of nowhere, with nothing. His story is like the old stories: No electricity, 12 brothers and sisters. Picking out tunes on the guitar -- that was your way out."
As it happens, 'Ghost on the Canvas' will be the 75-year-old Campbell's farewell. The singer announced recently that he has Alzheimer's disease. If he was showing signs of it a few years ago, when they recorded 'Meet Glen Campbell,' Raymond says he had no idea.
"I knew nothing about the disease at that point," says Raymond. "Even today, he has good days and bad days."
As they embark on a months-long goodbye tour, Campbell's family is rallying around him. Several of his younger children have a band called Instant People that will make up the bulk of his backing band. And his firstborn daughter, who is 54, will be one of the backing singers.
"He has nine kids with four different wives," says Raymond. "There's never a dull moment at Glen's house, I gotta tell you."