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Keith Urban, Thomas Rhett and More Praise Glen Campbell at 2016 ACM Honors

On Aug. 30, Glen Campbell received the ACM Career Achievement Award at the 2016 ACM Honors ceremony and was lauded by the country music community both on- and offstage during the event. Although Campbell is in the late stages of Alzheimer’s disease and could not be at the event to accept his honor himself, his family was in attendance to watch Keith UrbanBlake Shelton, Dierks Bentley and Toby Keith pay tribute with a medley of the icon’s biggest hits. But before the ceremony even began, country stars walking the red carpet shared their thoughts about and memories of Campbell with The Boot.

“Glen’s been a real influence for me,” Urban said. “His guitar playing, his singing — I mean, we always talk about pop-country and what’s going on, but you look at someone like Glen Campbell and what he did with the Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour, in bringing so much diversity into his world and exposing so many country artist to the outside world as well — and blending and infusing and collaborating with a myriad of people. He really was lightyears ahead of his time.”

Whether talking about the influence Campbell had on their own music or reminiscing about collaborating with him, country musicians of all generations had praise for the singer, songwriter, guitarist and TV host.

“Glen Campbell was one of our favorites. He’s one of those guys who’s doubled over with talent, and he always has been, and we’ve admired his talent for so long,” admit the Statler Brothers, who were also honored at the 2016 ACM Honors with a Cliffie Stone Pioneer Award. After his own television show ended, Campbell appeared many times on The Statler Brothers Show, and the trio says that his talent was unmatched. “And so it’s rightfully so that he’s being honored tonight.”

Crystal Gayle, another recipient of this year’s Cliffie Stone Pioneer Award, also collaborated with Campbell, and it wasn’t just his skills as a musician that impressed her: “I was just in awe of his music and him as a person,” she remembers.

The Band Perry have special memories of Campbell as well, both from their childhood and during their career. Their parents loved Campbell and always had Kimberly, Reid and Neil Perry listening to his music growing up. They performed with the country legend at the 2012 Grammy Awards and have a very special, distinct memory of when Campbell showed up to rehearse the performance.

“He walks in — Glen does — and he’s just got on a plain black jacket. He goes up, gets his guitar, and right before he plays “Rhinestone Cowboy” in rehearsal, he takes off his plain jacket, and someone hands him an actual rhinestone jacket. He puts it on and performs in that just for rehearsal,” the siblings recall. “It was really special for us, but our parents were there, and they got to see that as well.”

But it was perhaps Thomas Rhett who summed up Campbell’s indelible country music legacy best.

“I think that Glen is one of those icons that has fully shaped what country music is today,” Rhett admits. “There’s a lot of them, but Glen I think really stood out for someone like me who is a singer-songwriter and a storyteller. I think that’s where people like myself learn how to write songs — when we listen to classic music like Glen Campbell’s — so it’s awesome that he’s honored here tonight.”

Fans can see the special tributes to Campbell when the ACM Honors air on TV for the first time ever on Sept. 9 at 9PM ET on CBS.

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