A lot of us know the name Glen Campbell but aren’t sure exactly why.
For those of us who know a bit more, we often associate him with just one of his hits – the 1975 hit “Rhinestone Cowboy.” And that’s really a shame because he was an amazing musician – and when it came to the guitar, he could absolutely shred it.
An accomplished entertainer
Campbell passed away in 2017. He had been not only a singer and guitarist, but a songwriter, television host, and actor as well.
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His music career was at its height in the 60s and 70s, but he released 64 total albums over 5 decades. He was also the host of CBS’s The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour 1969 until 1972.
His songs won Grammy awards in both the country and pop categories and in 2012 he was awarded the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.
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A familiar tune
In a video from an instrumental performance that’s now been viewed at least 7 million times, he plays the William Tell Overture. And if that only sounds vaguely familiar to you, clicking on the video down below will jog your memory because you’ve undoubtedly heard it before.
It’s the final piece in a 4-part symphony and its real title is “March of the Swiss Soldiers.” The tune is meant to evoke the chaos of soldiers on horseback and it truly does have a galloping pace.
Campbell played the song many times over his career, making it one of his signature numbers. And in this video, accompanied by a symphony, he begins by recalling the first time he heard it – not as the finale from the 1829 opera William Tell, by Italian composer Gioachino Rossinias, but as The Lone Ranger’s theme song.
He says learned to play it as a kid and jokes that “because it’s so doggone fast” no one can tell when you make a mistake.
But Campbell was so skilled at this number that he sometimes played it with his guitar on top of his head!
And if you look closely you’ll notice that’s no regular guitar – that’s a 12-string Hamer!
A night at the symphony
Campbell’s backup is a full symphony orchestra – not that he needed any accompaniment or help with theatricality.
While he recorded the song as a single with the Royal Philharmonic, this performance appears to be from his 58th album, which was also recorded for a PBS television special, called Glen Campbell – In Concert. He’s accompanied by the South Dakota Symphony.
Just a few seconds of listening proves that this particular number takes a lot of talent to get the speed and accuracy of this song right. And it was the 14th of 22 songs performed at the concert recorded at the Washington Pavilion of Arts and Sciences in Sioux Falls, South Dakota!
And as the number comes to an end, Campbell adds a bit more flair to an already high-energy number by showing just how much energy his fingers have left.
Be sure to scroll down below to hear this magnificent version of a familiar tune and behold the great skill of one of the world’s most legendary guitarists!
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