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- January 31, 1983
- Vol. 19
- No. 4
Glen Campbell Finds Life with New Wife Kim Woollen Lies Gentle on His Mind
I've been sorely tempted and I've given in.
I've been burned by the heat of the fire,
A more than one-time loser who's about to win.
As those lyrics on his latest LP, Old Home Town, suggest, country crooner Glen Campbell has entered 1983 with a firm resolution. At 46, he has shed his rhinestones to play a homebody. For most of the past two years he had been hung up on Los Angeles glitter and his cussin'-and-bussin' romance with young singer Tanya Tucker. But three months ago he really did get to Phoenix, to settle down in peace and domesticity with bride No. 4: dancer Kim Woollen, who just happens to be Tanya's age, 24. Sometime this summer they'll greet a child that will be their first and Glen's seventh.
Their life is subdued, if not quite sedate. Behind their electronic gate are acres of citrus groves, lush green lawns and a swimming pool. A Rolls, a Mercedes and a Dodge van stand in the garage close by the Spanish-style hacienda. In the kitchen a Polaroid photo of the baby-to-be, taken from a sonogram exam, is displayed on the refrigerator door. The expectant couple play lawn darts. She knits. He floats down the nearby Salt River in an inner tube with a six-pack aboard. "Actually, I believe in the institution of marriage," says Campbell, despite his divorces. "I pray this is it. I believe it is. It's easier being with somebody who's got some sense." (No offense, Tanya.)
"There were periods when we worried about Glen," says his longtime pal, country singer Jerry Reed. "But now we're happy for him. All I can say is, anytime you get out of downtown L.A., that's damn good. He's right where he should be, trying to live the life that will make him happy—finally."
Certainly his career is healthy. For one thing, notes Reed, "He's singing like he's never sung before. It's just coming out clear and inspired." His new syndicated Glen Campbell Music Show has earned raves. "I have carte blanche when it comes to choosing guests," Glen says, "and I've been able to have one heck of a time with people like Willie Nelson, Johnny Mathis, Leo Sayer, Mel Tillis, Air Supply and Billy Preston. It's like a live jam session." He has hopes for the same freedom with his new label, Atlantic, which is already planning a new album (his 40th) that will bring Glen together again with songwriter Jimmy (Wichita Lineman) Webb. Next month Glen and his band will embark on a two-week, six-country tour in Southeast Asia.
Meanwhile, at the 13th annual Glen Campbell Open celeb golf tournament in Los Angeles last week, he was able to announce that the event had raised its two millionth dollar for L.A. Junior Chamber of Commerce charities. "It gives you a feeling you're actually helping somebody," Glen says. The golf's fun, too. "It's just you and the ball," says the nine-handicapper. "You can't blame nobody else."
Which isn't the case with one's romantic life, of course. Born the seventh of eight sons among the 12 children of a Billstown, Ark. sharecropper, Glen grew up picking cotton and listening to the Grand Ole Opry on the radio. At 14, he dropped out of school and started out in music as a backup guitarist for other headliners. At 17, he married pregnant 15-year-old Diane Kirk. Their firstborn died as an infant, but daughter Debby, 26, the wife of an Air Force MP, now has two kids of her own.
After divorcing Diane, Glen married Billie Nunley, an Albuquerque beautician who bore him Kelli, 21, Travis, 17, and Kane, 14. In 1967 he hit it big with two songs, Gentle on My Mind and By the Time I Get to Phoenix. Bigger yet was the 1968-72 run of CBS' Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour, which brought his beaming, wholesome good looks into millions of homes. But as his fortunes grew, Campbell groused that his wife Billie turned into a jet-setter and an absentee mother. After 16 years together, they divorced in 1975.
He soon married Sarah Barg, who was freshly separated from Glen's golfing pal, Mac Davis. Four years later and three weeks after the birth of Dillon Ian Campbell, now 3, they split, Sarah reportedly claiming that Glen was "running around with other women." At this point Tanya Tucker, whom he'd seen around the music circuit, gave him a call to see what she could do.
For a while Glen reveled in the idea of being with a woman in the same business. "I'm dating one of the finest female talents that God lets draw breath," he exulted. They traveled and made a single together, and publicly mugged and hugged. "He's the horniest man I ever met," Tanya giggled then. He threw her a $57,000 bash for her 22nd birthday and invested in a Sunset Boulevard boutique (now defunct) for her to run. Yet always there were brawls and tears. In April 1981 he angrily cut her from a British Isles tour. Repentantly, she flew to meet him in London, and they reconciled.
But the next month, during a weekend in New York, Glen found himself going on a blind date with Kim Woollen. The matchmaker was Campbell's banjo player, Carl Jackson, who was squiring a girlfriend of Kim's. Glen took Woollen to dinner at the Waldorf-Astoria with his parents, then to a James Taylor concert. "I didn't take it seriously," says Kim. "I thought it was just a date. But as soon as I met him, I knew there was something special about him." Adds Glen: "I liked her immediately. It was one of those things where you meet somebody and you just can't get them out of your mind. So I called and said, 'Let's go out.' "
Wholesome Kim was and is a far cry from the tempestuous Tanya. Born in Indianapolis, she was raised in Newport, N.C. after her parents split up. Though her mother reared her, she is still close to her father, who runs a clothing store in St. Louis. She studied dance at East Carolina University in Greenville, then in 1979 hit New York. There she first appeared in a Jones Beach production of The Music Man, and later was a featured dancer in two Radio City Music Hall shows. When she met Glen, she knew his greatest hits, "but I had never followed his music," she admits. By the fall of 1981, when Glen held his final public brawl with Tanya in a Bossier City, La. hotel, he and Kim were dating steadily. Engaged that Christmas, they married last October.
"There's got to be a captain of this ship and there's got to be a first mate," Glen says of their relationship. "I was put on this earth as a male and I function and do that for which God created me as a male, and she's a female and she does that. She never picks arguments and we don't bitch at each other. I consider that a blessing."
Repenting that he hasn't been a better father, Glen has brought daughter Kelli and son Travis to Phoenix; younger son Kane is at a boarding school not far away. As for little Dillon, Campbell says, "He's doing great, but I don't get to be around him that much. It's too bad, but you learn from your mistakes." Of the forthcoming babe, Glen vows, "I'm going to drag that little turkey right along with me. I didn't spend time with the other kids because of my work, but work won't get in the way this time." He has an idea of how to raise kids. "I know what my daddy did and what my granddad did and my great-granddaddy. Our dad taught us not to be a loafer and a slough-off, that you don't blame somebody else for your misfortunes. The kids are all different, but you can't be different with them. God's law is God's law, period. Teach your children that."
Though Kim hasn't danced professionally since the marriage, she has continued taking lessons and plans to start teaching children at the Baptist church in Phoenix where the wedding was held. Then she wants another baby "as soon as possible." She doesn't expect to be underemployed. "She said, 'I want to take care of you,' " beams Glen. "I said, 'You've got a big job.' "
- David Sheff.
March 28, 2015
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