The Wichita lineman is still on the line

The Beach Boys were in a bind.

It was late 1964, nearly three years into their incredible run as Southern California’s favorite sons providing the soundtrack to the fun-in-the-sun image adored from coast to coast.   The fivesome was in the middle of a major tour to capitalize on the strength of their latest #1 single, “I Get Around.”  But Brian Wilson — their tenor singer, bass player, chief songwriter, arranger and producer — was a fragile soul, and he had begun to crack under the pressure of all the responsibility.  He wanted to withdraw from touring, and concentrate on studio work.  What to do?

There was one clear answer:  Glen Campbell.

_89779590_78442333As a member of the loose group of L.A. session musicians who came to be known as The Wrecking Crew, Campbell had been the guy playing guitar in the recording sessions for “I Get Around,” “Dance, Dance, Dance” and other Beach Boys’ classic records, so he knew the material inside out.  He also had a clean-cut look similar to the rest of the group, so he would fit in well on stage.  He jumped at the offer and found himself a bonafide Beach Boy for a successful three-month stint.

beachboysAfter an extraordinarily public six-year battle with Alzheimer’s disease, Campbell died August 9th at age 81.  He was widely admired as a dexterous guitarist, a delightful singer, and a hell of a nice guy, and although his star shone brightest in the country music community, his many appearances on the pop charts with iconic songs and on important rock music records certainly qualifies him to be lauded here on Hack’s Back Pages.

Wilson, who had lobbied for Campbell to replace him on that tour fifty-odd years ago, had this to say last week:  “Glen was an incredible musician, and an even better person.  I’m at a loss.  Love and mercy.”

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Are you ready for the country?

477111097.jpgSince when does rock music include pedal steel guitar or banjo?

Since the very beginning, actually.  Many of rock and roll’s 1950s trailblazers — Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Fats Domino — were raised on the Delta blues, gospel and boogie-woogie, and those genres were (and continue to be) the pervasive influences in the birth and evolution of rock.  But a critical ingredient in rock’s recipe has always been country music.  Rock pioneers like Jerry Lee Lewis, Elvis Presley, Buddy Holly and Gene Vincent came from eastern Louisiana, small-town Mississippi and the plains of West Texas, with a twang in their voices and lyrical tales of heartbreak and woe so typical of the country music genre.

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