The axxe man comest -- Glen Campbell!?!

I just heard a cut of Classical Gas (the Mason Williams tune that Clapton probably made most popular). It was live and not arranged for solo guitar like the Clapton cut – there were added violins and drums. But the guitar was most prominent and it sounded damned good.

And… wow. Campbell had some really amazing riffs in that song. Most of the added style was average riffing, but there was some damned good fast fingerpicking riffs. From Glen friggin Campbell!

Have I lived a sheltered life? Is Glen Campbell a guitar hero in an alternate universe? Are there any other instrumental solo songs where Glen riffs out that I should give a listen to? Is Glen really an axeman, or is all his other material “Rhinestone Cowboy” quality ?

Glen was a featured weekly performer on “Shindig” in the mid-sixties. He was a much in demand studio guitarist in LA- on many records. He also took over Brian Wilson (touring) after Brian’s breakdown-& played bass.

Glenn Campbell is another one of those under-rated guitar players who never gets mentioned as a guitarist because his songs overshadowed his guitar playing, and because he did not feature his guitar prominently as a solo instrument in his music.

But as doctordoowop says, Campbell was a highly sought-after session musician in the 60’s, and he is an excellent guitar player.

Under guitar player that is always forgotten or under-rated is Roy Clark. A true virtuoso.

Thanks, Doc. I’d heard about the studio work and the Beach Boys gig for Glen, but hadn’t heard that he was actually a pretty damned good guitarist.

Are there any other GC songs available where he riffs out similarly to Classical Gas?

He did a couple of early instrumental albums. I think one of them was called “The Astrounding 12-String Guitar” or something like that.

You might want to check out which no doubt has all the details you might want.

Yeah, Glen Campbell is an axeman extraordinaire! I believe he played on Booker T and the MGs’ “Green Onion” too.

Well said! Roy Clark could play (and play the bejeebers out of) anything with a string. The old joke back home is, “That sumbitch could play a tampon!”

Not to continue the hijack, but have to share a Roy Clark story. Friend of mine was overseas in Spain and worked in an enlisted men’s club at one of the airbases. Mr. Clark came to play a gig at the officer’s club, and did so, for big bucks.

After the officer’s club gig, he walks over to the enlisted men’s club and says - “As long as there’s a fresh drink on the barstool next to me, I’ll keep playing.” Which he did, for several hours. For free. For all the enlisted men who couldn’t get into.

No doubt the tale has grown in the retelling, but if it’s even close to being true, it’s a great story.

The Crystals’ hit “Uptown” has a kind of a pseudo-Spanish guitar intro that is played by Geln Campbell. He definitely knew what he was doing with a guitar, no matter how hokey “Rhinestone Cowboy” is.

He also played on Sinatra’s ‘Strangers in The Night’ although as second banana - no lead riffs.
He used to play a great picked arrangement of J Cash’s ‘Thing Called Love’ Worth looking out for.

Wel, others have covered it already, but in the 60s Campbell was a part of the legendary loose group of LA session musicians know as the Wrecking Crew who seemed to have played on damn near everything recorded in LA for a time.

“Rhinestone Cowboy” was part of a mid to late 70s career revival for Campbell with more of a pop sound, just look at the crossover success of “Southern Nights” from this era. His late 60s-early 70s solo country stuff - like “Wichita Lineman”, “Gentle on My Mind”, “By The Time I Get To Phoenix” - has more of a traditional Nashville Sound style of the time, lush production and lots of strings. “Gentle” kind of emphasizes his guitar playing, but not sure if that’s what you’re looking for.

“Gentle on My Mind” was written by John Hartford, who used to appear on Glen Campbell’s TV show on a regular basis. IIRC, he died not too long ago.

Sadly, you recall correctly. He died shortly after recording “The Big Rock Candy Mountain” for the soundtrack of “O Brother, Where Art Thou?”

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Yep, Glen Campbell is great, but, AFAIK, he did NOT play on Green Onions - Steve Cropper is the Master of the Telecaster who crafted the Stax guitar sound, period.


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Campbell is certainly not under-rated as a guitarist amongst music types - he is vastly respected, and as other posters mentioned, his super-in-demand reputation as a session guitarist is testament to that. The fact that he got famous as a singer/entertainer and that overshadowed his guitar talent is more a byproduct of how he got famous - same thing with Bonnie Raitt - monster guitarist, but famous as a singer. Or Nat King Cole for that matter - got his start purely as a pianist of masterful talent, but got famous when he simplified his playing and made it more pop, and then sang…but everybody in the business knows what talents Campbell, Raitt and Cole are (were) on their instruments…

The wrecking crew was Hal Blaine on drums ,Carol Kaye on bass, Leon Russell on piano (also Shindig),Tommy Tedesco, etc etc. Blaine-forget his real name- wrote a book about it.
Manduck-Crystals were from Brooklyn, so Spector did the vocals in NYC & instrumental backing here, then. For “He’s A Rebel” he used Darlene Love(Wright) w/no Crystals. & the follow up “He’s Sure the Boy I Love.” (he even put a couple Ronette cuts on a Crystals album.)

I was watching a rerun of “Glen Campbell Good-time Hour” a few months ago and said to myself during one song, “Damn! Glen can sure play guitar!”

Guess I was right, again.

Talk about alternate universes: Clapton made the most popular version of “Classical Gas”? I never even knew that he ever recorded it, and I’ve followed Clapton since the mid-60s.

And in fact there is a Classical Gas site with an exhaustive list of recordings and Clapton’s name is nowhere to be found on it.

Aha. Googling, I find that Clapton did a version for the soundtrack of the movie The Story of Us. Still never even heard of it.

If you were around in the 60s and 70s then you certainly would have known of Glen Campbell as one of the best guitar players in the world. He and Buck Owens would do spectacular things on guitars and show off with stunt work like each playing the fingering on the other’s guitar at lightning speed.

You do know that Jimmy Page was a session guitarist before joining that Dirigible band of his, don’t you? :smiley:

And Charo is considered one of the finest living Flamenco guitarists. Who’d guess from her TV appearances?

It must be an alternate universe 'cause it sure didn’t happen in this one. The most popular version of Classical Gas is by Mason Williams. His version went to #1 on the Adult Contemporary Chart and to #2 on Billboards Hot 100.

I saw an interview with Campbell not long ago and he is releasing an instrumental Jazz album – and yes, he can play anything, has a killer sense of pitch and intonation and is probably one of the most talented unschooled musicians around.