Glen Campbell: True Grit

Carole and I saw the line-up for the Vancouver International Film Festival and decided to take in the movie documentary Glen Campbell: I’ll Be Me.

He is so much more than a purveyor of great tunes like Rhinestone Cowboy. When Glen was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, director James Keach was given total access to the singer during his farewell tour. The result is a musical testament to courage and determination. The movie also includes an appearance by some members of what became known as The Wrecking Crew, an assembly of some of the best studio musicians in Hollywood. Many do not realize that Glen was a fantastic studio musician before going solo. He is considered one of the best 12 string guitar players on the planet. For a while he fronted the Beach Boys in place of Brian Wilson, who had health issues. He appeared in Vancouver with them in 1965 and the opening act was Charlie Rich.

I first met Glen when he appeared for a week long session at the PNE on behalf of C-FUN radio at our annual Dance Party show at the fair. At the time we couldn’t get him any media coverage. He had only two or three songs out at the time and none were in the Top 10, but his single Universal Soldier (penned by Canadian artist Buffy Ste. Marie) was charted in Billboard magazine along with a version by Donovan.

I next worked with Glen when he was on top of the world with a string of hits such as Wichita Lineman, By The Time I Get To Phoenix and Galveston. He appeared again at the Pacific Coliseum. I had interviewed him prior to the show that night. He asked me if I was going to be at the show. I said yes and would be bringing my whole family. He said “Let me have your tickets” and he had them exchanged for front row tickets. There we were: Carole, me, my two girls Sheri and Kellie and my son Jeff.

At the end of his show he picked up the bagpipes and just before he played Mull Of Kintyre, he told this story: “It’s nice to be back at the PNE. I first appeared here in the summer of 1962. At that time no one would play my records or give me the time of day. But, there was one man who did and he is sitting down in front. Would you give a round of applause to Red Robinson. You believed in me.” I stood up, and my son Jeff who was 12 at the time said to me “Dad, you’re happening”. How could a person ever forget the generosity of a man like Glen Campbell?


He played the Red Robinson Show Theatre a few years back just before he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. My last encounter with Glen was during the PNE in the year 2007. I met with him in his trailer and conducted a TV interview. It was then that I noticed he was becoming forgetful. He initially was reluctant to talk to me on camera and then laid down some ground rules that referred to various memories of the past. He asked if I would not go back too far but stick to today. I did.

He always was a country boy at heart and you can see how down-to-earth he really was in this documentary. The movie was the grand jury prize winner this year in Nashville. There is still time to see it at the Playhouse. Click here for tickets.

Some Glen Campbell facts:

– He began his professional career as a much sought after studio musician. You can hear Glen playing guitar on many Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin recordings.
– His CBS-TV show Glen Campbell’s Goodtime Hour ran from 1969 through 1972. It began as a summer replacement for the Smothers Brothers show.
– This year marks Glen’s 50th year in show business.
– He has released over 70 albums to date.
– Glen has placed 80 different songs on Billboard magazine’s charts.
– He has 12 RIAA Certified gold records, 4 platinum awards and 1 double platinum award.
– Glen Campbell has 9 Grammy awards.
– He was nominated for an Oscar for his role in the John Wayne movie True Grit.

Glen Campbell will always will be one of the greats in the music business.