Glen Campbell’s daughter, singer-songwriter and banjo player Ashley Campbell told us in 2017 of her great pride in her father and his final album Adiós. The record made a remarkable debut at No.3 in the UK chart. It was Glen’s first time in the British Top 10 since 20 Golden Greats ended its run there in January 1977. On his passing in August 2017, it rose to a new peak of No.2.
“I heard it on the radio as I was on my drive over to the Universal office this morning,” said Ashley. “I’m so proud of my dad, it’s such a beautiful record.” Her father recorded his vocals in Nashville after his diagnosis with Alzheimer’s disease in the aftermath of his 2011-12 world tour.
Glen’s former banjo player and close family friend Carl Jackson then directed the completion of Adiós. Ashley sings and plays on the album, as do her brothers Cal and Shannon. She was finalizing her background vocals for the project only two months before release.
‘He’s going back to his roots’
The more traditional sound of Adiós highlights songs Glen admired and had performed live but, largely, never recorded. Ashley added: “I thought ‘It’s beautiful, he’s going back to his roots.’ Just a straight country and bluegrassy sound. I think it’s a nice change.”
A poignant highlight was a new version of “Postcard From Paris.” It’s one of four compositions by frequent collaborator Jimmy Webb and was previously cut for 2013’s See You There album. “I felt very honored to be asked to sing on the album,” said Ashley, “and I think with the particular song ‘Postcard From Paris,’ those lyrics mean a lot, especially now, ‘wish you were here.’ Obviously the song isn’t about Alzheimer’s, but for me it is.”
She says of the choice of material in general: “Some of them were songs that he would play when he was sitting around at home with a guitar, especially after he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and started losing some of the newer stuff. If he sat down with a guitar, you could guarantee that the first song he would play would be one of these songs from the album.
“His go-to song was either [Bob Dylan‘s] ‘Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right’ or ‘A Thing Called Love’ [the Jerry Reed song made popular by Johnny Cash]. Those are two of the songs he actually sat down and taught me how to play on guitar, when I started touring with him.”
‘We were sharing their story as well’
The Campbell family have been widely praised for their openness over the singer’s condition. This was searingly depicted seen in the 2014 documentary Glen Campbell: I’ll Be Me. “I can’t tell you how many people came up to me after they saw it and said thank you, and that they felt we were sharing their story as well,” says Ashley. “Up until [then], I don’t think it was really very publicly known what Alzheimer’s is and how it affects families.” Carl Jackson speaks in Part 1 and Part 3 of our Adiós interview series.
Ashley Campbell has won widespread praise for her own career in country-pop, as well as a banjo player. She received a string of four and five-star reviews for her solo debut of 2018, The Lonely One.