RIP Glen Glenn

Mar 23, 2022

I just heard that my good friend Glen Glenn, the 1950s rockabilly legend, has passed away. (Thank you Alan Clark for letting us know.) Glen recorded a number of fantastic records in the 1950s, including “Everybody’s Movin’” and “One Cup of Coffee.” He also had a very interesting history, working with the Maddox Brothers after Rose Maddox quit (a short-lived version of the group called the Maddox Brothers and Retta), and later Fred Maddox of the Maddox Brothers (Glen’s real last name was Troutman, and Fred renamed him “Glen Trout the ‘Stinkin’ Fisherman’” when he worked in Fred’s act, a play on Johnny Horton’s nickname, “The Singin’ Fisherman.” Glen worked with his cousin Porter Wagoner in Missouri, and met and befriended Elvis, Scotty Moore, and Bill Black in Hollywood. He took snapshot photographs with just about every country and rockabilly star from the 1950s. Later, during the decades of the “rockabilly revival,” Glen and his longtime musical partner Gary Lambert made new records, toured in Europe, and continued to play their brand of rockabilly at various festivals in the United States.

When I moved out to California in 1991, Glen (and his wife Mary) and Gary Lambert (and his wife Jean) were some of the most welcoming people I met in my new adopted state. I wound up playing a bunch of gigs over the years with them, either on guitar or upright bass. It was always a thrill when I’d be at a festival or a car show or a club, when Glen would see me he’d yell “DEEEEEEKE!” and come over and make me feel welcome. I sure miss both Glen and Gary, and getting to do the occasional gig with them.

Glen suffered with advanced Alzheimer’s and dementia the last few years, and no longer performed. According to Alan Clark, he passed away on March 18. My condolences go to his family, who are all wonderful people.

I have a million stories flooding my mind right now; we had a lot of good ones over the years. One of my favorite Glen stories concerns Bob Dylan, who was enamored with Glen’s song “Everybody’s Movin’” and asked Glen to open one of his shows at the Hollywood Palladium in the 1980s. Glen, whose musical tastes leaned heavily to country-western performers from the 1940s and 1950s, had no idea who Bob Dylan was, other than that he was a famous singer. Glen thought he was one of those “Bobbys” who put the 1950s rock and roll guys out of business in early 1960’, like Bobby Rydell, Bobby Vinton, etc. So Glenn went around telling everybody “DID YOU KNOW THAT BOBBY DYLAN IS A FAN OF MINE?” He was the real deal, 100%. His proclamation was true, although Mr. Zimmerman may have objected to being called “Bobby,” he was a fan of Glen Glenn’s music. As am I.

Mostly, just remember Glen always being super excited about music. I really miss his endless enthusiasm. It was contagious. As I’m looking over all these 1950s photographs of young Glen and Gary Lambert, I’m struck by the youthful exuberance, the wide smiles, the sheer joy on their faces. That’s what I’ll remember about my friend Glen. Music made him happy, and his music made me happy, too. Rest in peace, my rockabilly buddy, I hope you have a safe journey to the gig in the sky.

If you’re interested, you can read the extensive liner notes I wrote for Glen Glenn’s 2003 Bear Family box set Glen Rocks!

Also check out this recent interview with Red Hot & Country on Glen Glenn!