Watching Glen Campbell perform at this stage of his career is a bittersweet affair. The 75-year-old country crooner is in the midst of a series of farewell shows following his Alzheimer’s diagnosis last year. But Campbell seemed so joyful and spry during his intimate performance at the Grammy Museum that it suggested a new lease on life, with Campbell finding the humor in difficult situations.
When Campbell entered the Clive Davis Theater, the whole room rose to its feet for a standing ovation. The eight-time Grammy winner seemed humbled by the warm reception. “I get tongue tied up here,” he said, adding that he was thrilled to be on stage with his kids who make up half of his backing band. “It’s so great to have my kids here, plus they can cut it!”
Before the performance, Campbell answered a handful of questions posed by Grammy Museum Executive Director Bob Santelli. When asked who his favorite collaborator was, Campbell didn’t hesitate. “Frank Sinatra,” he said, passing over such famed collaborators as the Beach Boys, Elvis Presley and the Mamas & the Papas. “I talk about that guy and my hair actually raises on my head,” he added before giving his best Ol’ Blue Eyes impression.
Campbell then launched into “Gentle On My Mind,” with his children Ashley, Shannon and Cal backing him on banjo, guitar and drums, respectively. He seemed to be thoroughly enjoying himself, joking with the crowd and going for broke on several extended guitar solos, which proved he still has the nimble fingers of a man half his age.
“I’m happy to be here – to be anywhere, really,” he quipped between tunes. Occasionally he would lose his place or forget which key would start off a song, but was gently reminded by his daughter and would quickly pick up without missing a beat. “I forget a lot lately, y’all ever get that?” he said half jokingly.
The band trotted out one hit after another, including “Galveston,” “By The Time I Get To Phoenix” and “Wichita Lineman,” reminding the audience of his 50-year legacy and why he was able to so successfully cross over between the pop and country charts. Midway through his hour-long set, Campbell took a breather and let his kids take center stage, ably sharing vocal duties on “Hey Little One.” He then returned to the stage for a handful of tunes from his recent album, “Ghost on the Canvas,” and an encore that included a rousing sing-along of one of his biggest hits, “Rhinestone Cowboy.” He concluded the night by taking an extended bow with his band. The audience rose to its feet again in rapturous applause, knowing that this would likely be the last time they’d see him perform.