The world lost one of its most talented performers on Tuesday when Glen Campbell passed away, at age 81, after a long battle with Alzheimer’s Disease. Campbell wasn’t just a prolific country-music hit-maker, he was also a highly regarded studio guitarist who cut his teeth playing on records by Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra, Phil Spector and many others.
Campbell was also a television host from from 1969 to 1972, helming The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour on CBS. A variety show featuring music and comedy, it was the perfect place to work if you were a young comedy writer, happened to play the banjo, and were named Steve Martin. On an early episode of Goodtime Hour in 1969, Campbell teamed up with three of his banjo-picking peers (Don Lineberger, John Hartford and Roni Stoneman) and two of his own comedy writers (Mason Williams and a 24-year-old Martin) to play a six-banjo version of “Cripple Creek.”
That’s Martin second from the right, taking the second lead. Improbably, he’d only get better from this point at combining comedy and banjo.