Wednesday, June 19, 2013
By Ray Routhier email@example.com
Ask Glen Campbell a simple question, like where his daughter is, and he's likely to sound confused.
GLEN CAMPBELL: THE GOODBYE TOUR
WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Tuesday
WHERE: Merrill Auditorium, 20 Myrtle St., Portland
HOW MUCH: $45 to $65
INFO: 842-0800; portlandovations.org
LIKE A RHINESTONE COWBOY
SOME BRIGHT SPOTS of Glen Campbell's long career:
1965: Becomes a touring member of The Beach Boys, filling in for Brian Wilson.
1967: Wins Grammy awards for country ("Gentle on My Mind") and pop ("By the Time I Get to Phoenix").
1968: "Wichita Lineman" reaches No. 1 on the Billboard charts.
1969: Nominated for a Golden Globe for role in the film "True Grit," co-starring John Wayne.
1969: Launches own variety show, "The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour," on CBS; the show runs through 1972.
1975: "Rhinestone Cowboy" becomes a No. 1 hit on Billboard's pop chart.
1977: "Southern Nights" reaches No. 1 on Billboard's pop chart.
1980: Records the title track for the Clint Eastwood film "Any Which Way You Can" and makes a cameo in the film.
2005: Inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.
2008: Releases "Meet Glen Campbell," an album that includes covers of songs by Green Day, Tom Petty, Foo Fighters and U2.
2011: Releases "Ghost on the Canvas," with contributions from rockers Billy Corgan, Paul Westerberg, Jakob Dylan and Chris Isaak; it becomes his highest charting album since 1977.
2011: Begins "The Goodbye Tour."
But put him on a stage with a guitar in his hand, and he's still likely – at age 76 and more than a year after being diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease – to wow audiences with the power and emotion of his music.
"When I saw him play (in February), it was one of the most moving shows I've ever seen. When he steps out on stage, he knows exactly what to do," said Patrick Doyle, a Maine native who has covered Campbell for Rolling Stone magazine. "At some points, he would get confused, but then he'd do the guitar part on 'Gentle on My Mind,' and the place would get perfectly still."
Then there's Campbell earlier this month, at home, answering the telephone. An interview for this story had been scheduled with his daughter, Ashley Campbell. But when the phone rang, Campbell himself answered.
When asked if Ashley was there, Campbell first said no, then began asking other people if she was in the house, then repeatedly asked who was calling. After a minute or two, Ashley took the phone from him.
"It's hard to see someone as talented and wonderful as him have some difficult moments," said Ashley, 25, during that phone interview. "But we're doing this tour because he just wanted to keep playing. He just wants to do what he loves. There are times when it's difficult for him on stage, and there are more of those lately."
Campbell's indefinite "Goodbye Tour," featuring family members in his backing band, will come to Portland's Merrill Auditorium on Tuesday, courtesy of Portland Ovations.
People would likely come to see Campbell for any show, given his slew of huge pop hits in the 1960s and '70s that include "By the Time I Get to Phoenix," "Wichita Lineman," "Gentle on My Mind," "Galveston" and "Rhinestone Cowboy."
But this tour has the added emotional power of watching a star deal very publicly with a debilitating disease that so many families have faced, or will face, themselves. So he's not just performing – he's raising the profile of Alzheimer's and all those it affects.
"What he's doing raises awareness so much, and helps deal with the lack of understanding and fear connected with this disease," said Jessica James, director of communications and advocacy for the Alzheimer's Association, Maine Chapter, in Scarborough. "We're definitely excited he's in town. He's increasing awareness, and that's one of our major goals."
Although Campbell was diagnosed with Alzheimer's last year, family members say he probably had symptoms for years. In June 2011, he announced his condition publicly, and soon began his "Goodbye Tour" that will take him around the world indefinitely. His backing band on this tour includes at least three of his children at any one time, including Ashley on banjo.
Campbell also has a hit record to tour behind. Last year, he released a new studio album, "Ghost on the Canvas," which reached No. 6 on Billboard's Country Albums chart and No. 26 on the Billboard 200 – his highest charting album since "Southern Nights" in 1977.
"Ghost" featured contributions from a range of musicians who praise Campbell for his prowess as a session guitarist and pop singer, and for his influence on the music industry. Those include artists as diverse as Billy Corgan of Smashing Pumpkins, Paul Westerberg of The Replacements and Jakob Dylan of The Wallflowers.
Campbell's career spans some 50 years, from his session work on pop classics such as "Be My Baby" by The Ronettes and Frank Sinatra's "Strangers in the Night" to his own hits, which began charting in 1967.
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