Glen Campbell was one of the most influential music artists of the last 60 years. Born in Arkansas in 1936, he got his start as a session musician in Los Angeles playing guitar for the likes of Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Elvis Presley, The Mamas and the Papas, The Righteous Brothers and The Beach Boys. As a solo artist, Campbell led an astonishing career. His massive hits included “Gentle on My Mind”, “By the Time I Get to Phoenix”, “Wichita Lineman”, “Galveston”, and “Rhinestone Cowboy”. In 2012, he was bestowed the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. To date, his albums have amassed sales of 50 million copies worldwide. Sadly, Glen lost his battle with Alzheimer’s disease in August of 2017. He was 81 years old.
Campbell’s was a remarkable career but was not without its share of tragedy. His popularity both soared and waned. He battled the demons of alcoholism and drug addiction, only to emerge a better man. Illness eventually robbed him of his memory. But through it all, Glen was always revered by other musicians. One of whom was shock rock pioneer Alice Cooper. Campbell and Cooper became friends in the 1980s when both had moved to Phoenix, trying to escape destructive lifestyles. The two men remained friends for the rest of Campbell’s life. In this 2017 interview, Alice Cooper reflects upon the unlikely relationship and beautiful bond he had with his friend Glen Campbell.
On their unique relationship:
“You think of Glen, country; Alice Cooper, rock and roll; we couldn’t have been closer.” Cooper elaborated, “It was unique in the fact that I was so far away from him in music, the character of Alice Cooper, and he was so far into the middle. Really mainstream rock and roll, you know. He could go hang out with the Rat Pack, or he could hang out with Donnie and Marie, or he could hang out with the Beatles or anybody. He was in that middle, he was that sort of all purpose, good-looking kid that could do anything. He was the golden boy. And yet him and I were like this when it came to sense of humor, when it came to golf, when it came to music.”
On Glen’s passing:
“I think it’s a relief for Glen and the family. Glen and I were of the same faith. We were both Christians and I know where he is now. I know he’s in a perfect place…I was almost hoping that he would go sooner because I know that it’s a long, slow, cruel death.” Cooper added, “Everybody in that particular disease, you know that it’s inevitable. There’s no cure for it. And when it gets really, really over the top bad, when you can’t really function you just go…anytime now would be a good time. I’m sure if it were up to Glen, he would have said five years ago would have been fine with him.”
On becoming aware of Glen’s illness:
“It was one of those things where I’d be playing golf with him, and this was when he was in good shape, he was out touring, and he was playing guitar and he was playing golf every day, and he was doing Branson. Every once in a while, he would tell me a joke on the first tee. And then on about the fourth tee, he’d tell me the same joke again. And then about the 16th hole, he would tell me the joke again. And we would all just kind of go ‘well, maybe he’s just forgetful’. We could just see the beginnings of it, of him slipping a little bit.”
“We were telling jokes,” Cooper remembered, “I told him a joke, and he was laughing his head off. Came back about 10 minutes later and he says, ‘Tell me that joke again.’ I tell him the joke. He came back like five times.”
“Yet, you put a guitar in his hand, and he was a virtuoso. You would get him on stage, and he was automatic. I don’t care how much he had slipped; he was there. When it came to that, he was there.”
On Glen’s talent:
“He was one of the premier guitar players in both rock and country,” Cooper stated. “A lot of people don’t know this, but I mean, the respect he had in the rock ‘n’ roll world. People like Eddie Van Halen one time said, ‘Can you get me a guitar lesson with Glen?’ And most rockers would go, ‘What?’ That’s the kind of guitar player he was. He was considered one of the five best guitar players out there.”
On Their Substance Abuse:
“We both survived the alcohol and drug world. He did cocaine more than just about anybody out there during what we called the ‘LA Blizzard,’ when everybody was into cocaine. But he had a real problem with it, I mean a huge problem. He navigated through that. I navigated through that. We both came out the other end with great families, we both came out sober, we both became Christian, we both understood where we were — and that’s what we had in common…we were survivors of that world, and we both moved to Phoenix to get away from that world.”
On why they got along:
“We were both songwriters. We were both musicians. We were both in the business 50 years. So, we understood the business.” Alice would go on to say, “I loved being with Glen. I loved playing golf with him. He had a million stories about his world. And I had a million stories about my world. In other words, he would tell me a story about Roger Miller. And Bobby Goldsboro. And this guy, and this guy. And I’d laugh and I’d say, ‘Okay, I’ll tell you a good one on Paul McCartney and Jimi Hendrix’. We could both tell a lot of stories because we were both in those different worlds. And sometimes it crossed over. We did know all the same people. We knew the Sinatras, and we knew Elvis Presley. We both knew the Beatles so a lot of it was just telling stories about the stuff that happened to us. And Glen had some good ones. He got around.”
On Glen’s Legendary status:
“Glen was one of the most unique guys…He was so well thought of in the business as a musician, and as a singer, and as an all-around entertainer that I really looked up to him on that level. And he was always personable. Always laughing. Always ready to make you laugh. He had that. He had it all. He had the charisma that you just can’t buy.
On Glen as a Golfer:
“I always said as an amateur, 60 yards in, the best player I ever played with. He was a master short game player. We had some really fun times. I played at least one or two times a week with Glen when he lived here.”
“You know if Glen called up and was like, ‘Alice, let’s play tomorrow?’ I’d go, ‘absolutely, let’s go.'” said Cooper. “I loved being with Glen.”