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Friends Remember Musician Glen Campbell

Aug 9, 2017
Originally published on August 9, 2017 5:38 am
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(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "GALVESTON")

GLEN CAMPBELL: (Singing) Galveston, oh, Galveston...

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

That is the voice of singer and guitarist Glen Campbell, who passed away yesterday at the age of 81.

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

Campbell was one of country music's greatest crossover artists, from his 1967 Grammy award-winner "Gentle On My Mind" to this 1975 multimillion seller.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "RHINESTONE COWBOY")

CAMPBELL: (Singing) Like a rhinestone cowboy...

CARL JACKSON: He was just one of the most kind, generous, sweet people you could ever imagine.

MARTIN: That's the voice of Carl Jackson. He was Campbell's friend and longtime banjo player. They were like family. Jackson heard the news from Campbell's daughter, his goddaughter. He had seen Glen Campbell just a few days ago and says his passing was expected.

JACKSON: Of course, it's still devastating because, I mean, he gave me a job when I was 18 years old and pretty much made me a part of the family at that point, you know. I mean, he made me feel that way, certainly. You know, it just breaks my heart. It breaks my heart.

CHANG: He first got that job in 1972. It began a 12-year touring relationship and a lifelong friendship. He partnered with Campbell on an album recorded in 2012, after Campbell was diagnosed with Alzheimer's.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "EVERYBODY'S TALKIN'")

CAMPBELL: (Singing) Everybody's talking at me. I don't hear a word they're saying, only the echoes of my mind.

JACKSON: And here's this guy, you know, fighting Alzheimer's, 78, 79 years old and he's in there singing his heart out, sounding like he's 40 years old still, you know. He couldn't remember the lyrics. But he didn't forget the melodies.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "EVERYBODY'S TALKIN'")

CAMPBELL: (Singing) I won't let you leave.

MARTIN: Another of Glen Campbell's friends was Jimmy Webb, who wrote some of his early hits, including this.

JIMMY WEBB: "Wichita Lineman," to me, is a quintessential Glen Campbell record.

(SOUNDBITE OF GLEN CAMPBELL SONG, "WICHITA LINEMAN")

MARTIN: Webb reflected on hearing his songs come alive through Campbell.

WEBB: It was literally like discovering your voice, you know. As a songwriter, I experience, you know, a kind of existential thrill when I hear someone rip into one of my songs like that. Let people listen to that one for a long, long, long time because he sang like an angel.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "WICHITA LINEMAN")

CAMPBELL: (Singing) And the Wichita lineman is still on the line. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.