With his appearance Tuesday night at Seattle’s Paramount Theatre, singer Glen Campbell’s nearly 60 years in a sprawling career encompassing multiple genres of pop and country music come very close to an end.
After a Napa, Calif., show on Friday, Campbell, 76, who announced last year that he has Alzheimer’s disease, will retire and “probably enjoy playing a lot of golf,” says his daughter, Ashley Campbell.
Speaking by phone, Ashley, 27, who plays in her father’s band (which also includes Glen’s son Cal and another daughter, Shannon), says the star has been on the road for two years. When the elder Campbell received his Alzheimer’s diagnosis, he chose to continue touring, bidding farewell to longtime fans.
“We decided not to give up and hide in the shadows,” Ashley says, “but rather let him keep going as long as he can.”
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“It has been wonderful,” says Glen in a recent email interview. “We’ve done well over 100 shows in the past year, and people have responded so nicely with sold-out houses and standing ovations. I still love to do my show, especially with Cal, Shannon and Ashley. It’s fun and I enjoy it, so why not?”
A true crossover artist who was a touring member of the Beach Boys (replacing Brian Wilson), did session work for Frank Sinatra and Elvis Presley, and who won Grammy Awards for his performances of the hit singles “By the Time I Get to Phoenix” and for “Gentle On My Mind,” Campbell has always brought different audiences together.
“I see a lot of old, familiar faces at my concerts, and at this point my audience includes several generations because I have been performing since the 1950s,” says Campbell. “Most of my fans come from my country music base, but I was lucky to have my television show (the innovative 1969-72 ‘The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour’) and the pop records.”
Campbell’s fans have proved enormously supportive on his goodbye tour, singing the words to such hits as “Southern Nights” and “Rhinestone Cowboy” whenever the star has a memory lapse on stage.
“Occasionally he has a slip-up on lyrics or music, but he laughs it off,” says Ashley. “The disease is awful, and he’s getting a lot worse. But he’s having a really good time onstage.”
Asked about his musical legacy, Campbell points to his recurring partnership with songwriter Jimmy Webb.
“I am most proud of the hits I’ve had with Jimmy Webb songs. I was so lucky to be able to record ‘By the Time I Get To Phoenix’ and ‘Galveston.’ I thought the lyrics were particularly special in ‘Wichita Lineman’: ‘and I need you more than want you/And I want you for all time.’ That’s very powerful.”
Tom Keogh: firstname.lastname@example.org