From session guitarist to country superstar!
Born in Arkansas, Glen Campbell moved to New Mexico and joined his first professional band in 1954 at the tender age of 17.
He got married at 18 and started his own band in 1958 (Western Wranglers) with which he worked seven nights a week.
This must have put a strain on the marriage as he was divorced by 1959. Perhaps keen to move on, he relocated to L.A. in 1960 to seek greater opportunities.
His first gig was with a band called The Champs, they’d already had a hit with instrumental classic Tequila! 2 years earlier.
As a day job, he started working at a publishing company, writing songs all day long.
The demos he made caught the attention of the so-called Wrecking Crew, L.A.‘a answer to Motown’s Funk Brothers.
By 1963, Glen Campbell had already featured on over 500 recordings and even though he was releasing his own albums, singing his own tunes, he hadn’t had a hit yet in his own name. The closest he got was in 1965 with Universal Soldier.
It would take until 1967 before things started to pick up for Glen with the tunes By the Time I Get to Phoenix, I Wanna Live, and Dreams Of The Everyday Housewife all charting, making Mr. Campbell known to the general public.
Ironically, his first worldwide success comes from a song he didn’t write himself. Wichita Lineman was written by Jimmy Webb but Glen did ask Jimmy to write a tune that was similar in theme to By the Time I Get To Phoenix, so in a way, he did have a part in the writing. Apparently, Wichita Lineman is Bob Dylan’s favorite tune.
The following year, Jimmy writes another hit for Glen, Galveston, which also gets to #1.
However, the success isn’t as great as it once was, it would take until 1975 before he drops his signature song, Rhinestone Cowboy, and with it grabbed another #1. Again, Glen didn’t write it, this time it was Larry Weiss who penned the classic (Larry also wrote Hi Ho Silver Lining which was a hit for Jeff Beck).
Glen’s last #1 hit came in 1977 with Southern Nights, it sold 1 million copies in the U.S.
He would continue to record studio albums and release singles for a total of six decades.
The last two were I’m Not Gonna Miss You (2014) as the lead single for the film about his life, Altzeimers, and his last tour, Glen Campbell: I’ll Be Me. The final single was suitably called Adios. Released in 2017, the same year he passed.
In total, Glen Campbell released 64 studio albums and 115 singles, making him one of America’s most productive country superstars.
Glen Campbell tunes | Related pages
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