Glen Campbell Dies – Watch Him Sing & Play The Bagpipes On Amazing Grace

It’s really sad to hear that Glen Campbell has died at the age of 81, his final years ever increasingly affected by Alzheimer’s. As soon as I heard the news I remembered this clip below and the blog post I wrote back in 2011. I was hosting a late night talk radio show and I’d just discovered that Glen Campbell wasn’t merely the Wichita Lineman or the Rhinestone Cowboy and nor was he just a very good country-tinged guitarist / vocalist (not to mention his time as a de facto Beach Boy too).

Here’s what I wrote plus the footage that got everything ringing that night. RIP Glen Campbell.

Roxborogh Report September 28, 2011:

With the killjoy minor tragedy of no bagpipes allowed into Rugby World Cup games, we had a rip-roaring discussion on Newstalk ZB that spanned not one, but two mornings, on the finest bagpipe songs of all time. This was much to the screwed-up face scorn of Mike Hosking’s producer Glenn who is “suspicious of all bladders,” but was fun none-the-less.

I couldn’t believe how many ZB listeners awake in the wee small hours love AC/DC, nominating It’s A Long Way To The Top If You Want To Rock ‘n’ Roll as the best use of the pipes. Nervous it might be a career-limiting move to play an entire AC/DC song at 3am on ZB, due to regular and firm requesting from the audience I compromised by playing a decent clip or two of the Bon Scott-led ode to tartan-rock.

What was more expected was the nomination of Amazing Grace as the most chilling song you could possible hear on the bagpipes, though this came with a twist for me. A caller said Glen Campbell does a version of Amazing Grace where low and behold, he plays the pipes himself. An American who plays the bagpipes? I had no idea. Looking up the clip and then playing it on-air, I was blown away. In fact, so too was the ZB audience, with dozens of calls and texts from people saying they’d been moved to tears.

What is it about the bagpipes that can do that to people, myself included? Mull Of Kintyre is the same for me and melodically, structure-wise and even tempo, Paul McCartney’s biggest ever hit is a close musical cousin of Amazing Grace – surely no accident. When the bag-pipes kick in on Mull Of Kintyre, the simple three of four chord song all of a sudden becomes something so much more. With Amazing Grace, that is amplified further by the humblest and most moving of lyrics which have crossed religious and secular boundaries arguably better than any song in history.

What elevates Glen Campbell’s version even higher is the fact he is the one playing the pipes:

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Paul says:

    When I learned of Glenn’s death, I turned to Youtube to listen to Glens music as I thought that he was only C&W. He was not only C&W but he he was one of the greatest guitar players of all time. His playing Amazing Grace on the bagpipes was great. Most of the reviews were favorable, about 4 said that he was not playing the pipes. Whether he played them or not, Amazing Grace and Mull Of Kintyre, both songs sound great with the bagpipes. I checked Google and could find nothing comfirming what the 4 people said. I’m still moved hearing both those songs and wonder if those were the only two.

  2. Rosalie Melander says:

    My mother loved Glen Campbell, she had everything he ever sang, and the one she loved the most out of all his music, was him singing amazing grace and playing the bagpipes. all here demise arrangements were made long before here passing. when that time came, she reminisce over all us kids, it came to one point when she was dying, I asked her if there was anything else she wanted for her funeral, oh she said it would be so nice if i could have Bagpipes playing Amazing Grace. she said like Glen Campbell : Rose why is this taking so long? I said well Momma remember Jesus said in my fathers house is many rooms, and I am going to prepare a place for you, and it may not be ready yet. I was rubbing her forehead, ( she dearly loved that) just relax, after a while she went oh my, I said what do you see Mom
    she said Jesus is coming, i said “its time to go home” she said i Love you Rose, I love you to Mom. And the congregation sang Amazing Grace to Bagpipes Playing Amazing Grace. because My mother love Glen Campbell singing it and playing the Bagpipes. God Bless

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.