Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Rhinestone Cowboy tells Ol' Flap about the Queen Mum, family, Malibu and golf

Three years ago, I had the opportunity to spend time with the great Glen Campbell, prior to the Alzheimer's news, etc.  The magazine for which it was written never developed the web site for which it was intended, so it's never been published. Glen's still out there working, so I figured it's better to run this story now rather than as some sort of too-late remembrance. So, reaching back to a cherished hour or two in the spring of  2010, I thought I'd pull this story from my files and put it on the blog. After all, I believe at one point, Old Flapjacks may have been a lineman for the county. Or perhaps he was just running for the county line....   

Glen Campbell just has to look out his window to see the waters of the Pacific pounding at the Malibu shore. 

“It’s beautiful,” says the legendary entertainer, whose home is just across the Pacific Coast Highway from the sea. “I look out there and I see that God does some wonderful work.”

Clearly he appreciates his surroundings when he’s off the road. But he also loves to get out and entertain crowds. That’s his job, of course. And he’s particularly excited on this day because he and his new band – primarily made up of his children – are preparing to head to one of his favorite places on Earth: The UK.

The UK tour begins April 23 at INEC Kilarney in Ireland and ends May 13 at the Bournemouth Pavilion.

He’s played the UK often and he loves the people, who clearly love him right back.

“They really know their music, you know. And they sing along. It’s incredible.”

One of the people he was fondest of in the UK was the late Queen Mother, he says, reflecting warmly on what he still regards as a treasured friendship.

He views himself fortunate to have met the Royal Family, but he has especially deep feelings for the Queen Mother, who died in 2002 at 101 years old.

“She was wonderful,” says the singer, recalling how that friendship began. “She had kind of taken a liking to Glen Campbell and told the promoter that she’d like to meet me. And of course I wanted to meet her.

“I had lunch with her a couple of times. She was just awesome, just a breath of fresh air.  I’ll never forget that woman. I really loved her.”

One of his regrets is that he won’t be able to introduce her to the new band that has him as excited as he’s ever been about going on tour. 

You see, this time he’s taking his family along, not only to enjoy making new memories together in the UK, but also to share the stage.

His new touring band includes three of his children: Debby Campbell, singing harmony;  Ashley Campbell playing banjo, guitar, keyboards and supplying vocals; and Cal Campbell on drums.

“It’s great to look over and see three of my kids playing,” says Campbell. “It makes me proud of them.”

Tongue firmly in cheek, he says this family band saves him a lot of money. “I joke them that they are my personal slaves. I said, ‘what the heck is this: I’m having to feed them, so I might as well put them to work.’’’

While dad says being on stage with his kids “is really fun,” he also enjoys the fact that his wife, Kim, is always there on tour. “She loves it. She’s like a mother hen.”

While UK fans will hear plenty of their favorite Glen Campbell songs – classics like “Rhinestone Cowboy,” “Wichita Lineman” and “Gentle on My Mind” – they’ll also be hearing songs by a surprising array of artists who the singer covered on his most recent album, Meet Glen Campbell.

On that Capitol recording, producer Julian Raymond as well as the singer and others culled through songs by some amazing artists – among them Tom Petty, U2, Foo Fighters, Green Day, Paul Westerberg and John Lennon.

But Raymond didn’t want Campbell’s songs to sound like typical covers of those artists’ work.

Instead, the chosen songs were rewritten and “we recorded the songs to sound like Glen Campbell standards,’’ the producer says.

The critically acclaimed album pretty much set the tone for the upcoming Campbell project, again produced by Raymond.

Ghost on the Canvas, which won’t be released until 2011, is meant to be played front to back. The album is full of compositions written for the project that “tells” the story of the singer’s life and career.

Writers who contributed to this project include Jakob Dylan and Westerberg. Guest performers include Chris Isaak, Dick Dale, members of Cheap Trick and the Dandy Warhols, the Smashing Pumpkins’ Billy Corgan and members of Lou Reed’s band.

“It’s a modern classic Glen Campbell record,” says Raymond, who became a fan of Campbell’s music while he was a child, listening to his parents’ 8-track tape player. “It sounds like all the stuff Glen did, but with a sound that’s a modern slant…. It’s got that acoustic-folk feel.”

That engaging acoustic-folk feel, whether in a Campbell classic or in a new tune, is just what people are looking for in concert.

Campbell has no doubts that his new family road band will be able to deliver the new stuff as well as his classics with equal ease. After all, he says his three children in the band are “the best” at what they do.

This devotion to family – whether while touring the UK or just hanging out at home -- is one of the reasons the Campbells relocated to Malibu from Arizona five years ago.

Ashley was bound for Pepperdine University in Malibu and her mom and dad wanted to be nearby.

“She just graduated. Made straight A’s,” says pop. “Can you imagine, one of my kids made straight A’s at Pepperdine?”

So he’s looking forward to showing her and the other children the UK, sharing them with his adoring fans.

Of course, he’s also looking ahead to the time when the UK tour is over and he’s back at his Malibu home.

He’ll still be basking in the joy of playing in his favorite part of the world with his children on the bandstand and his wife in the wings.

But he’ll also be calling his buddies and getting them to join him at nearby Malibu Country Club.

When he’s not on tour, Campbell plays that Scottish game just about every day.  Unlike show biz, it's one game that's gentle on his mind.

 (Note: since this interview, of course, much has been written about Glen's "farewell" tour,  and his self-admitted "forgetfulness" was diagnosed as Alzheimer's. In addition, the anecdote about meeting the Queen Mother has been repeated by the singer, but -- to all of his friends and family -- the first time he remembered that occurrence was during our interview.  I'm simply posting this because it was a good story. It remains good, even though it's dated. I did add the last line now, because it struck me while I was editing. Now that someone else can read it, I feel better. This very nice man went out of his way to spend time with me. Now I can rest gentle on my mind.)  

No comments:

Post a Comment