Getting the news that Glen Campbell had died really socked me in the gut yesterday. I knew it was coming, and inevitable, but still…
Years ago, I got the chance to record a phone interview with him, as he was in the process of promoting his then-current album. I started by telling him a story about when I was living in Colorado Springs for a year, and instead of an ice cream man, we had a Sno-Cone man. Instead of the tinkly music you hear from ice cream trucks, our Sno-Cone guy would play Glen Campbell’s “Rhinestone Cowboy” relentlessly from an 8-track player. Not the whole album, though: just program 3, over and over and over, the one that had the title track. I told Glen that as a result, I have a Pavlovian response: every time I hear the song, I suddenly crave a coconut Sno-Cone.
Glen was greatly amused by that little story. We had a great chat, one of the truly great ones, but the moment that stuck with me was when we were closing the interview, and he said something that seemed a little…off.
Actually, a LOT off.
And I had that shudder, that moment when I thought, “I know what this means.”
Sure enough, less than a minute after the phone disconnected, an operator/producer from his record label, asking me to edit that part out, which I obliged, for privacy’s sake. I saw it as “this isn’t MY story to tell, it’s his, and I’m not in the scandal/gossip business.”
One of my co-workers came in shortly after, and asked how the interview went. I told him, good…but be ready for some bad news in the next few months.
It ended up not taking even THAT long, as a few weeks later it was revealed that Glen Campbell had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.
To carry that secret around on his behalf was a privilege, a small favor for decades of entertainment, and nostalgia. It’s no exaggeration to say that if this man had never been born, our musical worlds would be much smaller, and much more average.
He was a temporary Beach Boy. He played on sessions for the Byrds and Elvis Presley and countless other musicians. And I will miss him.
If you need help, information or simply want to donate funds to help find a cure, contact the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America at 866.232.8484, or find them online at alzfdn.org.
Also, you might feel compelled to take part in this year’s Walk to End Alzheimer’s in Columbus. Details here.
Middays on WIN 104.9
Rest in Peace, Glen. Coconut Sno-Cones Will Never Taste the Same. 🙁