I write these intros because they help me keep the front page clean. If I didn’t, then the front page would be about three miles long. My verbosity should be well known by you folks.
Y’all know what I’m doing, but I’m gonna type it out again. Why? If I don’t, then I won’t have a good spot to put in the “read more” tag and the front page would include the whole damned article. Trust me, it doesn’t look good.
People have claimed Jimi Hendrix was the greatest guitarist of all times. Those people are a pack of morons. They include such illustrious publications as the idiots at Rolling Stone Magazine and even Time Magazine. There are more, but I’m mainly pissed at Rolling Stone Magazine.
Don’t get me wrong, Jimi was a fine artist. Yeah, he played a guitar. No, he didn’t play it very well – at least not when compared to the best damned list of guitarists on the Internet. Seriously, if you don’t believe me then just click that link right there and learn. There are many, many guitarists who were better than Hendrix and some of them were even more influential.
Today’s guitarist isn’t all that well known but was fantastic and has a great story. Kids today probably have no idea who he was and it doesn’t help that he mostly played goat ropin’ music. He was also a singer, songwriter, television host, and even an actor. Well, Wikipedia tells me he was an actor but I can’t say that I recall ever seeing him in a movie. I guess he was in True Grit but I don’t actually even remember what that movie was about.
So, it’s on to our next artist who played guitar in his sleep better than Hendrix played while awake.
#11 Glen Campbell
When I began researching this article, I looked for a nickname for Glen Campbell. The closest I could find was people calling him Glen “Rhinestone Cowboy” Campbell. I… I just don’t think I can call him that. It just doesn’t seem right. It surely doesn’t seem right when it’s a man who looks like he might actually be a serial ax murderer and is way too comfortable playing this role:
In trying to think of a good nickname, I came up with Glen Holy-Balls-I’m-Not-Going-To-Even-Try-To-Cover-That Campbell, but it seemed a little wordy, albeit descriptive.
The Glen Campbell story has it all. It has the usual suspects like birth and death, but it also has intrigue, drama, peaks, excitement, and sadness. You can read all about it at Wikipedia, if you want. However, Wikipedia is probably edited by the same group of illiterate hyenas that work for Rolling Stone – because they don’t even begin to tell you how awesome Glen Holy-Balls Campbell really was.
Well, I’m going to fix that oversight and tell you all about him – well, the important stuff. Grab a chair, kids. TheBuddha is going to tell you about a guitar legend.
Mr. Holy-Balls Campbell was born way back in 1936. That means he was born before dirt had decided to accept entropy as fact and was still living its life as solid rock. Electricity was still a foreign concept to some folks, and it was just not something Glen had as a child.
Didn’t matter none, he was still awesome.
He was born in a tiny backwater town in Arkansas, to a very poor family, and lived a rather impoverished youth full of two things that were very important. The first thing he had was hard work. The second thing he had was music.
Back in ye olden days, you had mostly hard work. When you didn’t have work, you had play. Toys hadn’t been invented, so Glen was limited to just playing with his pecker or playing music. The vast treasure trove of information on this here Internet says nothing about the former, but it says a lot about the latter.
It’s safe to assume he did more of one than he did of the other. But, enough about his pecker.
When he was just four, his uncle Boo (I shit you not, that’s really the name) bought him a $5.00 guitar from Sears. After some careful math, I figure that was about 1940. $5 in 1940 was probably enough to buy a house, except houses hadn’t yet been invented – so he’d have had to buy a cave, but it would have been a nicely apportioned cave.
I don’t know any Arkansas-isms, so I’m going to have to make one up.
As they say in Arkansas, “That boy done took to the guitar slicker than shit on a cigarette cellophane!”
Just kidding, I actually like Arkansas and have some wonderful stories about Arkansas but this is not the time nor place for them. Still, the point is that young Holy-Balls took to the guitar.
You know how I said Glen Campbell was awesome? Well, he was…
Like almost all great musicians, I don’t think he ever went to school. I’m not kidding, he was out working in the fields not long after he was old enough to walk. By the time he was just six years old, he was already playing guitar on the radio.
That’s right, you were barely able to spell “Transformers” at the age where he was already a working musician. You were still leaving skidmarks in your Underoos by the time he was already working for a living.
Guitar? He took zero formal lessons – ever. Ol’ Boo taught him the basics and the rest of it was, well, slicker than shit on a cigarette cellophane.
It’s proof that all you need to do is work hard, skip going to school, take zero lessons to learn your instrument, and you too can be a guitar legend! I’m pretty sure that’s the magic formula.
I suspect that it probably helps that he lived in an area where everyone played music and his entire family was also musically inclined. I also suspect there’s a whole lot of work and hunger behind it – but you can just try the school skipping part and see if that helps. (I like to think I’m a good influence!)
Curiously, on his list of influential guitarists, lies none other than one Django Reinhardt. Astute readers, especially those with good observation skills, will notice that name is in blue. That means it’s a link. Django was none other than my 6th entry on this list.
Now, his family moved to Texas somewhere along the way. I don’t want to say it’s a trend, but SRV also lived in Texas. While you’re skipping school, taking no formal studies, and trying to grow long hair – you might want to consider moving to Texas.
He played some clubs, fairs, gospel music, etc… You know, Texas stuff. Then, he meandered off to none other than Los Angeles (another step along the Guitar Legend Trail, leave your dignity the door and you must be this tall to ride this ride) where he was a session musician.
I told you he was awesome and that doesn’t seem awesome. In fact, that seems pretty tame.
Well, about that… Trust me, I’m getting to it! As a session musician, he did recordings for everyone from Elvis to The Beach Boys. He played for Ricky Nelson, Bobby Darin, Nancy Sinatra, Merle Haggard, Dean Martin, and a bunch more.
Nah, still not awesome…
Sure, he made some songs that made it into the top 100, but you’ve never heard them. He even went on tour with Ricky Nelson – except he played the bass guitar.
Next, he did that whole television show thing. He hosted on the Smothers Brothers and then got his own damned show on CBS. It was called The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour. That title tells you exactly what you’re going to get. You’re going to get an hour with Glen Campbell and have a good time.
On his show, he hosted everybody. He did, too. Johnny Cash, the Monkees, Neil Motherfucking Diamond, and even Willie Nelson!
Then, he made movies. One of them was True Grit, with John Wayne and I don’t actually remember a single scene from the movie – but it was surely spectacular. After all, it had John Wayne and “Grit” in the title. It’s probably a good movie, but I don’t actually remember a bit of it. I’m not even 100% sure I’ve seen it.
He also was in a movie called Norwood and that also had Joe Namath in it. Joe was a football star. I have no idea about his acting ability and I’m skeptical of his ability to play guitar. Also, I haven’t actually seen that movie either.
So, that’s pretty fucking awesome, right? Yeah, that’s pretty awesome – but he was even more awesome.
Enter the 1970s! A stranger decade than the 60s ever thought of being. Holy-Balls Campbell had some fame and now had some hits. In fact, he had the one song you probably know – even if you don’t know you know it – called Rhinestone Cowboy.
In 1972, CBS gave him and his show the boot and Mr. Campbell didn’t let that stop him. He did a bunch of awesome things like make the above mentioned song. He also made other music, but we’ll get to that in a moment.
It was around this time that Holy-Balls reached awesomeness of epic proportions. He achieved a level of awesome so awesome that English doesn’t actually have a word for it.
Not only was he making awesome music, doing awesome things, and having a good time – he learned the joys of alcohol and cocaine! Oh, the merry drug and alcohol infused adventures he had.
He wasn’t a sissy about it, either. No, even though his most famous song has “rhinestone” in the title, Campbell did nothing by half measures. Nope…
Ol’ Glen went on a drug and alcohol infused adventure that lasted from the early 1970s until just about the end of the 1980s. Then, just to say fuck it and show the world how it’s done, he went right back to using again in 2003!
That, ladies and gentlemen, is why Glen Campbell was awesome.
See, he fucking trashed his career, his personal life, and spent more money than Oprah has – all on cocaine and alcohol. So what did Holy-Balls do? He played every gig that’d have him. He played everything from county fairs to Foreign Legion halls.
And he was smashed the entire time, while fueled by giant lines of cocaine.
He was playing old country and western songs to your grandmother down at the bingo hall while snorting fat lines of cocaine between sets and getting so drunk he could barely walk.
That’s not just awesome – that’s fucking holy-balls awesome. Sure, many musicians suffer from drug and alcohol addiction, but how many make granny cream her bloomers down at the bingo hall while in the midst of a merry drug powered adventure?
One. One person did that – and his name was Glen Holy-Balls Campbell.
That’s right, you kids want to grow up to be Ozzy, Richards, Manson, or Cobain. You’re wrong, kids. You want to grow up to be just like Glen Holy-Balls Campbell. You can’t get any cooler. You can’t get any more awesome.
But – he did.
Glen Holy-Balls Campbell was actually even more awesome than that.
What you might have forgotten is that this is a list of guitarists better than Hendrix. You don’t get to be on this list by just being awesome. If this was just a list of awesome people, you’d be on it! (You’re pretty awesome, my dear readers. You’re pretty awesome, indeed.)
I can forgive you for forgetting that this list is about guitar players. I imagine that’s easy to do when you’re encountered with this much awesome.
But, before we get to that, let’s tell you how much more awesome Holy-Balls was!
After his relapse, ol’ Glen decided he’d drive while intoxicated. I’m not kidding. You only wish you looked this cool in your mug shot:
Oh, he was married four times and fathered eight children. One of those children happens to be Ashley Campbell who is a fine musician in her own right and a very nice looking young lady. (makes call me sign)
Then, in like 2011, he told us he had Alzheimer’s. That might not seem awesome, but three of his kids were being pricks so he wrote ’em right out of his will as a final, “Fuck you, I’m awesome.” It’s okay – I’m sure he forgot about it a few days later! (Nothing is sacred! Nothing!)
In other words, he was more awesome than you’ll ever be. On top of that, he played guitar better than Hendrix ever dreamed of playing. Allow me to show you why Holy-Balls is on the list.
You don’t have to wait long… Maybe 30 seconds…
Yup… Told you Holy-Balls was awesome.
How about a little number called “Classical Gas?”
I wasn’t kidding – he was awesome. Now, keep in mind that he had zero formal training and doesn’t even seem to have had much of a scholastic career.
Also, keep in mind that his nostrils were probably caked with cocaine and he had more alcohol than blood in his system! Yeah! Fuck yeah!
With that in mind, listen to this:
I ain’t even gonna try that – and I regularly cover Malmsteen and actually have formal training in classical guitar. I’m not even going to try to learn it. It seems like way too much effort, to be blunt.
And that, folks, is why Glen Holy-Balls Campbell is on the list of guitarists better than Hendrix. Glen Campbell pulled off the William Tell Overture and Hendrix forgot what song he was playing so he set his guitar on fire.
The list of awards that he’s won is too long to even bother with. The list of awards he should have won is probably longer. He was truly a legend in his time. Granted, he’s probably not a very good role-model but there’s absolutely no denying that he was both awesome and belongs on this list.
Like usual, I like to leave you with one for the road. This song might be a bit cheesy and dated, but it’s still pretty awesome. Ladies and gentlemen, Glen Campbell!
As you know, I really enjoy writing these silly things. I get a kick out of the fact that y’all enjoy reading them. You know what I like even better? Your comments. Got an opinion? Let me know. I ain’t scared. So long as it’s not going to get me booted from the hosting company, I’ll publish it. I don’t even care if you disagree – you can be as wrong as you want to be!
So, if you have an opinion, let me know in a comment. If you have guitarists you’d like to see covered, let me know in a comment. Until next time…
Shut up and play us a song!