You probably won't find a more unlikely friendship between musicians — stylistically or, ahem, visually — than what legendary heartland hero, the "Rhinestone Cowboy" himself, Glen Campbell shared with macabre, shock rocker Alice Cooper.
"Glen was one of the most unique guys," Cooper told KSAZ-TV in Phoenix after Campbell passed away of Alzheimer's disease Tuesday. "You think of Glen — country. Alice Cooper — rock 'n' roll. We couldn't have been closer."
Among the first examples Cooper shared regarding why the pair were so tight had everything to do with their spiritual commonalities.
"Glen and I are of the same faith," he told the station. "We're both Christian, and I know where he is now. And I know that he's in the perfect place."
There were other things Campbell possessed personality-wise, Cooper told KSAZ, that made being friends with him pretty easy.
"He could go hang out with the Rat Pack, or he could hang out with Donnie and Marie [Osmond], or he could hang out with the Beatles or anybody. He was in that middle. He was just sort of the all-purpose, good-looking kid that could do anything. He was the golden boy," Cooper told the station. "And yet him and I were like this when it came to sense of humor, when it came to golf, when it came to music."
In Cooper's rock 'n' roll world — in which guitarists often play screaming, lightning-fast solos and are as flashy as can be — you wouldn't think Campbell's southern country picking would garner a sideways glance. But it always did. And then some.
Alice Cooper on his unlikely bond with Glen Campbell: “We were survivors” https://t.co/zYvX1l50Qj https://t.co/igPBunzEJh— Rolling Stone (@Rolling Stone)1502399523.0
"He was one of the premier guitar players in both rock and country," Cooper told KSAZ. "A lot of people don't know this, but I mean, the respect he had in the rock 'n' roll world. People like Eddie Van Halen one time said, 'Can you get me a guitar lesson with Glen?' And most rockers would go, 'What?' That's the kind of guitar player he was. He was considered one of the five best guitar players out there."
Indeed, Campbell cut his teeth as a highly regarded studio musician and played guitar on a number of songs that might surprise you. Would you believe Elvis Presley’s “Viva Las Vegas,” the Righteous Brothers’ “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’,” Frank Sinatra’s “Strangers in the Night" — and the Monkees’ “I’m a Believer"?
Campbell also replaced Brian Wilson on the Beach Boys' tours in the mid-1960s and played on a number of the band's hits, Variety said, including “Fun, Fun, Fun,” “Good Vibrations,” and the legendary “Pet Sounds” album.
So Campbell's musical diversity, as well as his prowess as an all-around entertainer, connected with Cooper as well.
They also shared dark periods, such as problems with drugs and alcohol.
"He navigated through that, I navigated through that, we both came out the other end with great families, we both came out sober, we both became Christian, we both understood where we were — and that's what we had in common," Cooper told the station "... we were survivors of that world, and we both moved to Phoenix to get away from that world."
He said that "you can be in this business and be a Christian and navigate your life through it." Cooper is part of the Evangelical Covenant Church and runs a ministry in Phoenix for teenagers.
When Campbell lived in Phoenix, Cooper said they saw each other almost every week, played a ton of golf and their families became very close.
An interesting anecdote Cooper shared was one time he attended a "hillbilly Passover Seder" at Campbell's house.
"I'd never been to a Seder before and I didn't know what a normal Seder was," Cooper recalled laughing, "... [but] a country and western Seder was very unique."