Rob Reiner Remembers Glen Campbell as 'the Coolest Guy'

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Glen Campbell

"He could hang out. There was no star stuff," said the filmmaker.

Musician and actor Glen Campbell passed away Tuesday of Alzheimer's disease and actor, filmmaker and writer Rob Reiner spoke to Billboard on his time working with the famed country star.

Reiner, along with comedian and musician Steve Martin, was a writer on The Summer Brothers Smothers Show, which starred Campbell and led to him getting his own show in 1969, The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour. Below, Reiner reflects on working with Campbell, his laid-back attitude and his talent as a musician:

"First of all, for me, it was the dream come true. I was 21 years old and working on a network series. Glen was the coolest guy. He could hang out. There was no star stuff. He’d come up and hang out in the writers room because John Hartford, who’d written the show’s theme song, 'Gentle on My Mind,' was one of the writers. We’d be in there and John would get on his banjo, Glen would play guitar and they would just start fooling around. It was incredible to watch. And Steve Martin, who was my writing partner on the show and is a great banjo player, would join in sometimes.

"The thing about Glen was, he was this apple-pie-American-looking guy with a really sweet voice, but when you saw him play guitar, holy mackerel! He was the most incredible guitar player I’ve ever seen. People didn’t know that then. The show was about his persona, but he had played on just about every rock and roll recording session that had come through Los Angeles with The Wrecking Crew and The Beach Boys. He was the go-to guitarist. There are opening licks on certain Beach Boys songs that are all his.

"What I also I loved about him was, this was the '60s. We were in the middle of the Vietnam War, there was all this racial tension, and on the show we did a lot of very cutting-edge things that were so against what his image was. And yet, Glen was fine to play along with that. He was totally game and he was funny. One time we did a real tough anti-Vietnam War montage. It was a song — I can’t remember what it was — but the fact that he was in it made it acceptable for the public to see this because he was this all-American Southern boy."  

This story first appeared on Billboard.com.

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