To the Editor:

My wife told me last week that Glen Campbell had passed away. It kind of hurt — actually, it was a big hurt. I was privileged to know Glen from the time that he was scuffling to the time that he was knocking them out of the park. He was the finest all-around musician that I ever met — and I have known a few.

I first met Glen in Atlanta and he was a "Beach Boy." Brian Wilson had gotten ill and had to leave the tour, and they called in Glen. He had a new single out at the time, "Tomorrow Never Comes," in my estimation, one of the best songs he ever recorded. He came on stage to a very large crowd, looking just like a Beach Boy and his harmonies and lead singing, along with his guitar picking, was wonderful. On top of that, he was extremely nice to me and my wife.

A couple of years later we met in Miami. I had been transferred there and Capitol Records sent him on a promo tour for his recently released "By the Time I Get To Phoenix." I had been fortunate enough the previous year, to have done a decent job promoting a song "Ode To Billie Joe" by Bobbie Gentry. The first radio station to play "Ode" was in Florida and it built from there. Capitol figured that might be a good area to get Glen's latest off the ground, so he and his producer, Al DeLory, came to Miami. Al went out and Glen and I stayed in the hotel room and talked. Glen had a fixation on a watch I wore that had my name on it instead of numbers, a gift from my parents. Glen was always trying to figure out how he could put his name on a watch. I told Glen that "Phoenix" looked and smelled and tasted like a hit, and he told me that if "Phoenix" was not a hit, that was it. No more recording. No more tours. He told me the amount of debt that he had with Capitol Records and that he could make a lot of money just doing session work.

He was good with session work — he played a bunch of instruments and sang great backup. Jimmy Bowen, a wonderful producer, had used Glen numerous times and related a story to me regarding Dean Martin. Dean came into the studio wanting to know where was the backup singer, who would sing harmony, where was the guitarist, the bassist, and who was going to play the tambourine? Bowen each time pointed to Glen. Dean said, "When does the kid have time to clean the bleeping bathroom?"

I last saw Glen perform at Andy Williams' Theater in Branson. It was a wonderful show as always, but he had to respond and watch the list of tunes in the floor, and I could tell that he was having problems. I gave the folks at the theater a note, asking Glen for a couple of minutes to say hi. They informed me that he did not know me.

I did not get to see him or speak to him, but I am blessed — I met Glen, I talked with Glen, and I was privileged to hear one of the finest musicians of my lifetime. I have seen and met many, but Glen was a blessing and a wonderful gift. Peace my friend.

Tom Ellison



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