The End of the Lineman

I was so saddened to hear of Glen Campbell‘s passing today at the age of 81. He is right up there in my list of favourite musicians whose voice and songs could hit me like an emotional kick in the guts – but in the best of ways. He was one of those artists who some see a coiffed country cliche, in fact the “Rhinestone Cowboy”, but if you listen to his music and understand the influence and contribution of his life’s work to many other artists and hits, you begin to understand his importance in popular and country music.

HCover of Burning bridgese was one of 12 children born to a sharecropping Arkansas family. As a boy he was obsessed with the guitar playing of Jazz great Django Reinhardt and he became a stunning guitarist in his own right. He lent his talent to many hits as part of the Los Angeles based Wrecking Crew, the unsung heroes of hits for big stars such as Elvis Presley, Dean Martin, The Monkees, Nat King Cole, Frank Sinatra and many of Phil Spector’s ‘wall of sound’ productions. In 1963 alone, he appeared on 586 cuts and countless more throughout the decade, including The Byrd’s Mr Tambourine Man, Elvis Presley’s Viva Las Vegas, and the Righteous Brother’s You’ve Lost that Loving Feeling.

He was a touring member of the Beach Boys when Brian Wilson stopped touring in 1964, and in the late sixties, began winning Grammys and hosted his own TV show. His big hits, Wichita Lineman, Galveston, Where’s the Playground Susie and By the Time I get to Phoenix were all taking off around this late sixties period.

I can never decide whether Wichita Lineman or By the Time I Get to Phoenix is my favourite, I can never get through either without a tear in my eye. It’s writer Jimmy Webb’s words sure, but it’s Glenn’s soaring plaintive voice and his wondrous guitar solos that also add so much to the sadness and longing in both songs.

Burning Bridges by Debbie Campbell is a biography by his daughter, who toured with him for years, and is an account of not only the good times, but also the drugs and drinking and family struggles that seem to so often come with a musician’s fame and life on the road.

The documentary “Glen Campbell: I’ll be me”, released in 2014, is well worth hunting out, following him on what was to be his last tour, as his his battle with Alzheimer’s began to affect his ability to play and perform.  (late edit: Prime TV have announced they will screen this at 8:30pm on Thursday, 10 August).

His last song, “I’m not Going to Miss You”, won a Grammy this year for best country song.

Glen Campbell is survived by eight children and was married four times.

Find out more

Recent necrology, July 2017

Some well-known people who have died recently

  • Helen Cadbury, 1965-2017
    English poet and crime writer, author of the Sean Denton series
  • Allan Hunter, 1922-2017
    Christchurch author of, mainly, local history

Cover of The Geri Allen Trio Cover of Angelique and the Demon Cover of Max Podstolski Artist File Cover of He Toi Nuku, He Toi Rangi

  • Martin Landau, 1928-2017
    American film and television actor, best known for his roles in Mission Impossible, and Ed Wood
  • Jeanne Moreau, 1928-2017
    French actress, singer, screenwriter and director
  • Max Podstolski, 1952-2017
    Christchurch artist, former Fine Arts Librarian at Canterbury University

Recent necrology, June 2017

Some well-known people who have died recently

Cover of More About Paddington Cover of Birdcage Walk Cover of The Art of Exile Cover of Wallace & Gromit: Cracking Contraptions Manual

Recent necrology, May 2017

Some well-known people who have died recently

  • Jiri Belohlavek, 1946-2017
    Czech-born conductor, chief conductor of the BBC Symphony Orchestra from 2006 to 2012

Cover of My Cross to Bear Cover of Friend or Foe  Cover of My Word is My Bond  Cover of World Without End

  • Roger Moore, 1927-2017
    English actor who played James Bond in seven feature films and Simon Templar in the television series The Saint
  • Hugh Thomas, 1931-2017
    Acclaimed historian of the Hispanic world

Recent necrology, April 2017

Some well-known people who have died recently:

  • Jonathan Demme, 1944-2017
    American filmmaker, screenwriter, producer, director of The Silence of the Lambs

Cover of A Complete Dagg Cover of Jonathan Demme Interviews Cover of The Dragon Tattoo Cover of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance 

  • Yevgeny Yevtushenko, 1933-3017
    Russian poet, novelist, essayist, dramatist, screenwriter, publisher, editor, actor and director

Recent necrology, March 2017

Some well-known people who have died recently

  • Chuck Berry, 1926-2017
    American guitarist, singer and songwriter, one of the pioneers of rock and roll music
  • James Cotton, 1935-2017
    American blues harmonica player, singer and songwriter

Cover of Footrot Flats Gallery One Cover of Inspector Morse Cover of Faces in the Firelight Cover of White Egrets

  • Kurt Moll, 1938-2017
    German operatic bass singer who enjoyed an international career and was widely recorded
  • David Storey, 1933-2017
    English playwright, screenwriter, award-winning novelist and former professional rugby league player
  • Derek Walcott, 1930-2017
    Saint Lucian poet and playwright who received the 1952 Nobel Prize in Literature

Recent necrology, February 2017

Some well-known people who have died recently

  • Dick Bruna, 1927-2017
    Dutch author, artist, illustrator and graphic designer, best known for his children’s books
  • Nicolai Gedda, 1925-2017
    Swedish operatic tenor who had a long and successful career till the age of 77
  • Al Jarreau, 1940-2017
    American singer and musician best known for his 1981 album Breakin’ Away
  • Alec McCowen, 1925-2017
    English actor whose gallery of roles ranged from St. Mark to the Fool in King Lear, and from Rudyard Kipling to James Bond’s outfitter, Q

Cover of My Favorite Things  Cover of Miffy Is Crying Cover of Inventing God

Recent necrology, January 2017

Some well-known people who have died recently

  • John Berger, 1926-2017
    English art critic, novelist, painter and poet
  • Michael Chamberlain , 1944-2017
    New Zealand-born Australian writer, teacher and pastor best known for the 1980 death of his daughter Azaria
  • Babette Cole, 1950-2017
    English children’s author and illustrator

Cover of Hold Everything Dear Cover of Dimiter Cover of Heart of Stone Cover of Dr Dog

  • John Hurt, 1940-2017
    English actor and voice actor whose career spanned six decades

Cover of Growing Up Again Cover of The First to Land Cover of Snowdon Cover of Confessions of A Sugar Mummy

  • Douglas Reeman, 1924-2017
    British author of many historical fiction books on the Royal Navy, who also wrote under the pseudonym Alexander Kent
  • Emmanuèle Riva, 1927-2017
    French actress best known for her roles in the films Hiroshima Mon Amour, and Amour
  • Bruce Slane, 1931-2017
    New Zealand’s first Privacy Commissioner
  • Emma Tennant, 1937-2017
    British novelist and editor whose fiction is often imbued with fantasy or magic

Recent necrology, December 2016

Some well-known people who have died recently

  • Michele Amas, 1961-2016
    Prominent Wellington actress and poet
  • E. R. Braithwaite, 1912-2016
    Guyanese-born United States novelist, writer, teacher and diplomat

Cover of Watership Down Cover of After The Dance Cover of Billingsly

  • Carrie Fisher, 1956-2016
    American actress, writer, producer and humorist best known for playing Princess Leia in the Star Wars film series
  • Zsa Zsa Gabor, 1917-2016
    Hungarian-American actress and socialite

Cover of The Princess Diarist Cover of The Hiltons Cover of George Michael

  • John Glenn, 1921-2016
    American aviator, engineer, astronaut and senator
  • George Michael, 1963-2016
    English singer, songwriter and record producer who rose to fame as a member of Wham!
  • Russell Oberlin, 1928-2016
    American countertenor who became a leading light in the early music movement

Cover of The Unsinkable Cover of Deception Cover of Triple Concerto

  • Debbie Reynolds, 1932-2016
    American actress, singer, businesswoman, film historian and humanitarian
  • Patricia Robins, 1921-2016
    Romantic novelist and former wartime ‘Filter Room’ girl who also wrote historical fiction under the pseudonym Claire Lorrimer

Recent necrology, November 2016

Some well-known people who have died recently

  • Mose Allison, 1927-2016
    American jazz and blues pianist, singer, and songwriter
  • Fidel Castro, 1926-2016
    Cuban revolutionary turned dictator
  • Leonard Cohen, 1934-2016
    Canadian singer, songwriter, poet and novelist

Cover of My LifeCover of Leonard Cohen on Leonard CohenCover of The Modfather

Cover of Self-PortraitCover of New Cura RomanaCover of Fawlty Towers Volume 2