Singer Glen Campbell, who died Tuesday, was an occasional visitor to Eastern Kentucky, thanks to his friendship with coal operator and businessman L.D. Gorman.
Gorman booked Campbell in July 1973 to perform two free concerts in Hazard to mark the 50th anniversary of People’s Bank & Trust. Gorman was the bank’s president at the time.
“We thought it would be great to have something big for that occasion,” Gorman said Wednesday.
“He and I became great friends. He visited me many times here in Hazard, and I played in his golf tournament” in Los Angeles.
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Lexington resident Frank Barker remembered taking Campbell on a tour of Hazard and Perry County in 1968. Campbell came to Hazard for the dedication of Daniel Field, the football field named for Gorman’s uncle, Dewey Daniel.
A year earlier, Campbell had released two of his big hits: “Gentle on My Mind” and “By the Time I Get to Phoenix.” Barker worked for First Security Bank in Lexington, and he met Gorman through his work.
“L.D. asked me to take him on a tour of the area, and I did,” Barker said. Campbell “would get out talk to people, shake hands with them, rub the kids’ heads. I showed him a couple of coal operations that L.D. had.”
Barker said Campbell “made his mind up that whatever he made from L.D. that he was going to donate it back to those poverty-stricken kids. It just touched his heart.”
“Glen was a very kind person,” Gorman said.
An October 1974 story in the Herald-Leader said Gorman brought Campbell to a University of Kentucky football practice. Campbell spoke with Coach Fran Curci and shook hands with the players.
When Campbell met defensive tackle Pat Donley, Campbell asked how much he weighed.
“About 265,” Donley said.
“You could go bear hunting with a switch,” Campbell quipped.
Gorman said the Hazard FM radio station, WSGS 101.1, played Campbell’s songs Wednesday morning in tribute to his friend.
Gorman has an Ovation guitar that Campbell gave him as a birthday present. The guitar is signed “To my friend LD., Glen Campbell.”