Glen Campbell on his many '60s hits -- The rhinestone cowboy, honored on a new CD collection, remembers playing on songs by the Beach Boys and Dean Martin

By Marc Weingarten
October 10, 2003 at 04:00 AM EDT

The Legacy (Music - Glen Campbell)

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Think Coldplay’s Chris Martin in Squaresville. That’s roughly the territory Glen Campbell staked out in the ’60s, when he was one of music’s biggest hit machines, turning out a string of exquisitely arranged smashes (”Wichita Lineman,” ”Galveston,” ”By the Time I Get to Phoenix”) that have lost none of their shimmering beauty. All of Campbell’s greatest sides are featured in a new 80-track collection called ”The Legacy,” out this week.

What isn’t featured on the boxed set is his other great legacy, as the Zelig of 1960s L.A. session men, playing guitar on hundreds of classic records. We asked Campbell to look back on union time well spent.

THE BEACH BOYS, ”Good Vibrations” ”Brian Wilson played with that theremin for hours while we all sat there, getting paid for doing nothing. The next day, I went in for 10 minutes, played something, and he just said, ‘Thanks a lot. See you later!’ You never knew what to expect.”

MERLE HAGGARD, ”Carolyn” ”Merle Haggard appeared on my TV show, along with Buck Owens and Johnny Cash. The networks didn’t want them — thought it was too country. Turned out to be the No. 1 show that week. After we taped, Merle had me overdub some vocals on’Carolyn’ with his wife, Bonnie. That was some day!”

THE CRYSTALS, ”He’s a Rebel” ”Phil Spector loved me ’cause I was the master of the guitar capo, which allowed me to get that round, ringing sound he liked. But he was kind of unreachable as a person, out in the distance somewhere, always thinking about his records all the time.”

DEAN MARTIN, ”(Remember Me) I’m the One Who Loves You” ”Producer Jimmy Bowen wanted me to sing some harmonies on one of Dean’s records, which was difficult, because Dean was all over the place. He wasn’t anywhere close to the backbeat — before, on it, or after it. I told Jimmy, ‘We’ll have to take this line by line.’ Dean could drink me under the table, though. He could sure hold it!”

The Legacy (Music - Glen Campbell)

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