When Keith Urban took the tempo down a notch at a 2009 show in Las Vegas, it was to introduce what would be a full-circle career moment. Sitting on a stool with acoustic guitar in hand, the country star welcomed a surprise guest to the second stool beside him: the legendary Glen Campbell, who shared the story of their first meeting with the audience.
“I was in Australia quite a while back, and this little kid comes up [to me and says], ‘Oh, Mr. Campbell . . .,'” he recalled, going on to explain the solid advice he gave the young Urban all those years ago: “Practice, and learn your trade.”
“I’m still doing it!” Urban — who picked up his sixth CMA Award in 2009 — quipped in response.
The “Sweet Thing” singer and his musical hero then traded lines and riffs on Campbell’s “Wichita Lineman,” giving it a breezy, acoustic spin for the Escape Together World Tour stop. The classic country song was written by Jimmy Webb, also the brains behind the iconic singer’s “Galveston” and “By The Time I Get To Phoenix.” “Wichita Lineman” was the title track of Campbell’s 12th album — one of more than fifty LPs in his illustrious catalog.
The now-retired Campbell, who is in the late stages of Alzheimer’s disease, won his final Grammy last month for “I’m Not Gonna Miss You,” a song featured in his I’ll Be Me documentary. Urban is among the handful of celebrities who appear in the film.
“Growing up across the world, Glen Campbell showed me what country music was,” the singer says in the documentary, in a clip filmed at the 2011 CMA Awards — where Urban sang “Wichita Lineman” in an all-star tribute to Campbell.
The admiration is mutual. Campbell once declared in a CNN interview that Urban is “the best guitar player in Nashville.”