Saturday, June 26, 2010

They Passed This Way: Glen Campbell

 Glen Campbell arrived in Albuquerque in 1957, the twenty year old had been lured west from his home in Arkansas by his uncle Dick Bills, a local celebrity who was well established in the Duke City. Bills fronted his own music group "The Sandia Mountain Boys," Glen with his extraordinary musical skills was quickly incorporated into the act.  Dick Bills had a radio show that aired five days a week, a weekly television show and a regular gig as the house band at the Chesterfield Club on East Central.  By 1958 Campbell had grown tired of taking orders from his uncle, he broke away to form his own band "The Western Wranglers."  At first Campbell's new  group performed mostly in the Albuquerque area, before branching out to tour around the southwest. By now Glen had his sights set on a much larger audience, towards the end of 1960 he and his wife left Albuquerque for California.  In Los Angeles he would find himself in demand as a session musician, eventually becoming part of the clique of studio musicians known as  The Wrecking Crew. During 1964 and 1965 he toured with the Beach Boys as a stand in for Brian Wilson, he would also play guitar on the group's classic album "Pet Sounds." In 1962  he signed as a solo artist with Capitol Records,  his first single "Turn Around, Look at Me" was a minor regional hit. He recorded two instrumental albums and several singles, including songs written by Brian Wilson (Guess I'm Dumb) and Buffy Sainte Marie (Universal Soldier). However he failed to make an impact on the charts, until 1967 when on the verge of being dropped by Capitol, Glen finally had his first big hit with John Hartford's "Gentle on My Mind".