Glen Campbell’s long goodbye to Seattle

(Photo from Victoria Ghost Facebook page)

SMI contributor Brent Stavig shares his thoughts on Glen Campbell’s last Seattle performance….

I wasn’’t sure what to expect from the Glen Campbell Farewell Tour when it rolled into the Paramount Theater on November 27th. By now, we all know that he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease last year, and that he was crisscrossing America one last time to showcase his many hits, and to say goodbye to his fans. What no one knew was whether Mr. Campbell would be capable of remembering the words to his songs, or how to play guitar, or even what he was doing on a stage. (In a recent Rolling Stone interview, he couldn’t remember things that had happened only ten minutes earlier.)

However, by the end of the night, I’d’ witnessed one of the most memorable, positive, and uplifting concerts ever.

Opening the show was Victoria Ghost, comprised primarily of two of Glen’’s children – son Shannon on guitar and vocals, and his sister Ashley on mandolin, banjo, guitar, and vocals but also featuring the late-great Harry Nilsson’’s son Kiefo on bass. It’’s hard to find any detailed information about the band online, aside from their FB page, but I’’ll admit to being surprised by the quality of the songwriting and the strength of the vocal performances. I hate to resort to saying “these kids are going places”, but I’’d be surprised if they don’’t achieve some decent success simply because they’’re just too darned good not to!

Here’s a Victoria Ghost clip from the tour:

After a short break to rearrange amps (all of the members of Victoria’ Ghost also serve as Glen’s backing band), Mr. Campbell hit the stage in a sparkled, deep-blue suit. Everyone at the Paramount rose to their feet in appreciation of the fact that Campbell made the effort to tour one last time, and to include Seattle on the itinerary. Sadly, the Paramount was barely half-full, but at least everyone there was there with love in their hearts.

Hearing the unmistakable intro of “Gentle On my Mind” had the crowd on their feet again, and it was just the beginning of what would be a night of “”Oh! I love this song!”” exclamations.

Campbell prowled the stage like he had energy to burn, venturing past the monitors regularly in an effort to be as close to the audience as possible, and occasionally getting unnervingly close to the lip of the stage.  He forgot the lyrics sporadically throughout the set, but always apologized and recovered nicely. One could tell that he was struggling, but also that he was truly having a great time, and his enthusiasm was infectious. “”I’’m so happy to be here!”” was his refrain of the evening, and he also noted that he hadn’’t played in Seattle for “quite some time”.

(Photo by Brent Stavig)

Next up was the one-two punch of “Galveston” and “By the Time I Get to Phoenix”. Seventy-six years of hard living hadn’’t tainted the supple power of Glen’s voice; he hit every note spot-on. Listening to his faithful rendition of “Phoenix” brought a tear to my eye as I was transported back in time to my early childhood in the 1960s, and his heartfelt delivery was surely appreciated by all.

Glen’’s guitar playing hasn’t suffered either. He seemed to relish the chance to step away from the mic and bust out impressively solid leads, perhaps reminding the audience that it was his guitar playing for the likes of Frank Sinatra, the Beach Boys, Johnny Cash, the Mamas and the Papas, and many more, that first garnered him attention.

It’’s worth noting that Glen’’s children, and the rest of the band members, were all acutely aware that at any moment Glen could completely lose track of which song he was singing, or when the song was supposed to end. All eyes were on his every move, ready to intervene if needed, and occasionally reminding him of what song was coming next. His longtime music director and keyboard player, TJ Kuenster, signaled the band whenever a song – sometimes unexpectedly soon- was going to end.

The middle of the set was filled with a potpourri of songs by what may have been influences; “Lonesome Blues” by Hank Williams, “I Can’t Stop Loving You” made famous by Ray Charles, and the heartbreaker, “Didn’’t We” (written by Campbell stalwart Jimmy Webb) perhaps best known by the rendition from the late actor Richard Harris, but also recorded by Sinatra.

Campbell ended the set with a gorgeous rendition of “Wichita Lineman” (the song I was there to hear), complete with a note-for-note perfect tremolo guitar solo, and the chart-buster “Rhinestone Cowboy”.

For the entire evening Campbell was beaming, truly happy to be able to share his music with his fans one last time, glad to be alive, and blessed to have had such a wonderful life. I can’’t remember attending a concert where I was smiling almost the entire time (okay, maybe Led Zeppelin in 1977) but this time was different; I wasn’t smiling because of the excitement I felt to be there… I was smiling along with the performer, and sharing in a special moment that both of us knew would never happen again.


  1. Gentle on My Mind
  2. Galveston
  3. By the Time I Get to Phoenix
  4. Try a Little Kindness
  5. Where’s the Playground Susie?
  6. Didn’t We
  7. I Can’t Stop Loving You
  8. True Grit
  9. Lovesick Blues
  10. Dueling Banjos (with daughter Ashley)
  11. Any Trouble
  12. It’s Your Amazing Grace
  13. The Moon’s a Harsh Mistress
  14. Wichita Lineman
  15. Rhinestone Cowboy


  1. Southern Nights
  2. A Better Place

Brent is a native Washingtonian who spent seventeen years playing in rock bands in NYC in the eighties and nineties. Highlights include sharing the bill at CBGB's with Smithereens, Vernon Reid's Living Color, Modern English, Green River, and hundreds of other awesome bands. I now live in South Seattle and spend my days herding commuters.