Glen Campbell in 2002: 'I'm a Cheap High'

Glen Campbell to Larry King in 2002: "I’m a cheap drunk, you know, and I’m a cheap high."

In a 2002 interview with Larry King, Glen Campbell, who died on Aug. 8 from Alzheimer's disease, discussed his addictions to tobacco, cocaine and alcohol. 

King: How did you defeat addiction?

Campbell: Well, I turned to God and said, you know, I can't do it by myself. I need some help.

King: Because you were both on drugs and liquor, right? That's a bad combination.

Campbell: And I'm a cheap drunk, you know, and I'm a cheap high. I'll put it that way.

I could not be around marijuana. I could walk in a room where somebody had been smoking and it would immediately affect me. Because I guess that's the way my metabolism is.

Same way with alcohol. I'm a guy that definitely cannot hold his liquor. I could take a shot of whiskey and be on a pretty good buzz.

King: Why do more successful people go for that extra kick?

Campbell: You got me. I never drank when I was a kid, because if you did, you know, daddy would wear the back side of your pants out. But I remember, I drank a big glass out of that old home brew jug, you know, down by the spring, and it wasn't done yet. I thought I was going to die for two days.

King: Moonshine?

Campbell: No, it was the home brew, the old yellow stuff.

King: So you were off it for a while?

Campbell: I was off it, yes. But I got into drinking scotch and soda. Like I said, I'm a cheap drunk.

I was pretty well loaded most of the time during that whole period.

King: Were you working drunk? Could you go onstage?

Campbell: Well, not drunk – oh, yeah, I'd go on stage.

King: With cocaine?

Campbell: Yes. With cocaine. 

King: And do your act and remember the lyrics?

Campbell: Oh, yeah.

King: Was that difficult? Or was it easy?

Campbell: I don't know.

I guess I was just trying to run away from things, you know, and then just actually not living in the real world.

King: But still you had hit records.

Campbell: Yeah.

King: I mean, things were rolling.

Campbell: And it was. I just thank God that he got me through all of that. I prayed and I prayed and I prayed.

King: Were you raised in a religious house?

Campbell: Yes. Mom went to church every Sunday and drug all the kids.

King: So how did that God concept do it for you? 

Campbell: I just woke up and said, I can quit this. And cigarettes went. I stopped smoking.

Bill Clinton helped me quit smoking also, because I'd heard Bill – I didn't know until about 12 years ago that people from Arkansas didn't inhale, so I said, why smoke, you know? So I quite smoking.

And the liquor came later, like, all within a span of three or four weeks.

King: No kidding.

Campbell: I just clean cut everything. It was amazing, because I was awful.

King: You've been sober now how long?

Campbell: Twelve years, maybe.

King: Do you ever think about it? Do you ever think you want to drink?

Campbell: No.

King: So you could be around it. It doesn't bother you if someone drinks?

Campbell: No. I will drink a glass of wine occasionally, but, you know, you can get hung on that, too.

King: Has this at all affected your performance one way or the other?

Campbell: No. I'm a better singer since I quit smoking. I can put Hank Williams [songs] back in the show. I can sing "Lovesick Blues" and "Long Gone Lonesome Blues" again.

King: You couldn't swing them when you were smoking?

Campbell: Right, I could not sing them when I was smoking.

King: Why?

Campbell: Like, the voice, you know. And drinking, too. Whiskey really dries out your system – alcohol does, anyway.

Read the entire interview transcript here.

Steve Bloom

Steve Bloom

Publisher of, former editor of High Times and Freedom Leaf and co-author of Pot Culture and Reefer Movie Madness.