THE GOOD TIMES STILL ROLL
Family and music keep Glen Campbell on the go
Story by Lorraine Zenka
There's a simple reason why, at 66, Glen Campbell is still so busy.
"I'm a musician," he declares. "A guitar player and a singer. And I love playing. That's the fun of it!"
Indeed, Glen is just as vital now as he's ever been. He plays a seemingly endless schedule of concerts - and has even been working with young rockers Stone Temple Pilots lately. The secret to his boundless energy just might be the influence of his wife of 20 years, Kim.
"She runs me to death!" he laughs. "Kim is a wonderful person, and she keeps me healthy. She feeds me right. But I do have to start working out with weights more - walking around the golf course isn't enough!"
A recovering alcoholic and drug user - today, he says, he doesn't even smoke anymore - Glen has raised three children with Kim: sons Cal and Shannon, and daughter Ashley. "I raised my children the way my daddy raised me," he says. "You tell kids what to do and they do it, and they don't talk back. Of course, as they get older, we discuss things a lot more."
Glen has five other adult children from three prior marriages. He's a grandfather and great-grandfather, too. "I hate to see them get grown," he admits. "I like to see my little kiddies stay little, because they're so much fun. It brings me great joy to go swimming with them, play with them, tease them and then send them home."
He also enjoys performing with his eldest daughter, Debby, who has been singing with him since 1987. "She's my first baby girl and one of my best friends," says Glen. Debby is planning to marry in December - and Dad will be singing at the wedding. "There are times when I'm amazed by what I've been blessed with."
Those blessings were hard-earned. The son of a sharecropper, Glen escaped an impoverished Great Depression upbringing in Arkansas through his mastery of the guitar. After making his way to Los Angeles in the early '60s, he found himself playing for the likes of Elvis, and became a touring member of the Beach Boys in 1964. Glen struck out on his own soon after, knocking out smashes like "Wichita Lineman," "Galveston" and "Rhinestone Cowboy" for two and a half decades.
The hits slowed in the early 1990s, around the time Glen built his own Goodtime Theater in Branson. He closed the place three years ago - and he doesn't exactly miss it. "It was like getting up and plowing day after day," he recalls. "I had no one to relieve me." Glen still performs at Andy Williams' Moon River Theater in Branson twice a year, for seven weeks at a time. "I love visiting Branson," says Glen. "There's plenty for kids to do, and for bigger kids, it has a great championship golf course."
Besides, with Glen's constantly on-the-go tour schedule, he says, "It's nice to go somewhere and sit down in one place for a few weeks."
Glen also sat down recently to watch CMT's summer revival of The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour, his early-'70s TV show. Seeing the shows after all this time was a treat for their star.
"It was really something to see those talented people again," he says of the show, which featured guests like Johnny Cash, Ray Charles, Cher and many more. "I loved working with them all," Glen recalls. "It was a kick, a real privilege."
But seeing a 30-years-younger version of himself on TV was not entirely pleasurable. "Seeing the Goodtime Hour again was cool," he chuckles. "but it made me want to go out and get a hair transplant!"
Follicles aside, Glen is very happy these days. He has accomplished so much that his remaining goals are few - but lofty. "The one thing I'd like is maybe to get into the Country Music Hall of Fame," he offers. His regrets, also, are few.
"There are a lot of things I wouldn't have done, but to change one thing would change everything I have now," says Glen. "I like where I am. I'm content and happy with my children, grandchildren and wife. Life is very good."