Glen Campbell: Derry remembers Rialto Theatre gig

By Dean McLaughlin

Image source, Johnny Murray
Image caption,
Derry man John Murray met Glen Campbell at the Rialto Theatre

From Arkansas to Londonderry - the late country music star Glen Campbell wore a Derry City scarf and performed Danny Boy in the city in the 1990s.

The Rhinestone Cowboy singer died on Tuesday at the age of 81 after a long battle with Alzheimer's disease.

He performed in the Rialto Theatre in Derry in the 1990s for hundreds of people.

BBC Northern Ireland presenter Sean Coyle welcomed the singer on stage and described him as "humble".

"He was magnificent and the crowd loved him," said the BBC Radio Ulster/Foyle presenter.

Image source, Margaret Cunningham-Moore
Image caption,
Margaret Cunningham-Moore couldn't get a picture with Glen Campbell - but kept the gig poster

"I was the MC on the night and his manager approached me as I was standing waiting in the wings.

"He said Glen would like a word. Glen told me not to build him up to much because he had to live up to that expectation then.

Image source, Reuters
Image caption,
Glen Campbell released over 70 albums and sold 45 million records

"He was humble like that. He later grabbed my hand and thanked me.

"It was fantastic that he came on the stage wearing a Derry City scarf. He performed Danny Boy and the crowd loved it."

'Soundtrack to my life'

Willie Deery was the promoter who welcomed Campbell to the city.

"He was one the nicest men I have ever met," said Mr Deery.

"The tickets sold out within two hours and he felt like he was at home in Derry.

"He asked me if I had anybody in hospital that would like to see him. That's the type of person he was.

"It was one of my all time favourite concerts and it's a memory that will stay with me forever."

'Proper superstar'

John Murray managed the Rialto Theatre in Derry for 14 years and said working with Campbell was a pleasure.

"He was one of the true gentlemen of the entertainment business and such a talented musician and vocalist," said Mr Murray.

"The staff loved having him there at the time and I thank them for their hard work."

Image caption,
Campbell backstage at the BBC's Top of the Pops in 1970

Derry woman Erin Hutcheon was there with her father when he played in the Rialto Theatre.

"We were so happy that we were able to see him in our home town," she said.

"I listened to country music like my dad. Glen Campbell's music was the soundtrack to my life.

"It's so sad that he is no longer with us and it was such a privilege to see him live and hear the classics.

"I also gave him a lift in my car."

BBC Radio Ulster presenter Ralph McClean said: "He was much more than a country star, he was a proper superstar."

"He was in the pop charts continually when I was growing up and he was a film star - lest we forget his performance alongside John Wayne in True Grit.

"He was the ultimate American entertainment idol really. He'll be very much missed because for me he embodies that glorious period of country music in the 1970s when really anything was possible."

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