Spotlight on ……
For more than four decades now Glen Campbell has been one of pop music's most enduring and popular recording artists, a performer whose perennial career has embraced many different facets of popular entertainment, and whose appeal has never diminished with the passing of the years.
Classic hits like By The Time I Get To Phoenix, Galveston, Southern Nights, Wichita Lineman and Rhinestone Cowboy are now part of our pop music heritage, and Glen Campbell richly deserves his place in the pantheon of popular music.
Glen Travis Campbell was born on 22nd April 1936, in Delight, Arkansas, the seventh son of a seventh son, and was given his first guitar at the tender age of four years, bought for him by his father for $5 from a mail-order catalogue. Within two years he was already playing on a live local radio show. After leaving school in 1953 young Glen left home to join a band in Wyoming. The following year Campbell joined his uncle's group, the Dick Bills Band, in Albuquerque.
In 1958 Glenn formed his own group, Glen Campbell & The Western Wranglers, and he began to make regular appearances on a daily Albuquerque radio show K Circle B, as well as appearing on the local TV shows Hoffman Hayride and Country Store. Some 18 months later Glen moved to Los Angeles with his new bride Billie, finding work there as a session guitarist. During the next five years Campbell worked with such artists as Bobby Darin, Johnny Cash, Merle Haggard, Dean Martin, Nat King Cole and Frank Sinatra. He was also briefly a member of the Champs, joining them after they had a U.S. number 1 with Tequila.
In 1961 Glenn Campbell launched his solo career with the release of his debut single Turn Around, Look At Me which he performed on Dick Clark's top-rating American Bandstand TV show. Released on Crest, an independent label based in Los Angeles, Turn Around, Look At Me was a minor success for Campbell, reaching number 62 in the Billboard Hot 100. This was sufficient however to arouse the interest of Capitol Records who signed the singer in 1962, and released his first single, Too Late To Worry - Too Blue To Cry, in September of that year. It provided Campbell with a second minor chart entry, and was followed by an album Big Bluegrass Special six months later.
For the next three years however Campbell's solo career remained on hold. In October 1963 he played guitar with The Folkswingers, a quartet of session players who released an album, 12 String Guitar! During 1963 alone Campbell performed on almost 600 recording sessions. Two years later, in 1965, Campbell became a regular guitarist on ABC-TV's Shindig music show, and he also temporarily joined The Beach Boys (for whom he had played lead guitar on most of their early hits), replacing Brian Wilson for six months when Wilson decided not to tour with the group. The year ended with Glen's cover version of The Universal Soldier (written by Buffy Saint-Marie) reaching number 45 in the Billboard Hot 100, his first solo hit in three years.
During the next couple of years Glen Campbell's recording career began to build again. He had a Top 20 country hit with Burning Bridges in 1966, and in the summer of 1967 Glen's cover version of John Hartford's Gentle On My Mind climbed to number 62 in the Billboard Hot 100. However it was with the release of the classic By The Time I Get To Phoenix - written by the young and talented Jimmy Webb - that Campbell's fortunes finally began to soar. Campbell's recording of the song - which marked the beginning of a successful artist/writer partnership with Webb - reached the U.S. Top 30 while his album Gentle On My Mind climbed to number 5 in the American charts, selling over half a million copies (as well as being named Album of the Year by the Academy of Country Music).
Photo Credit: Sandra Gillard/Lightkeepers
In 1968 Glen Campbell finally became a fully-fledged American recording star. At the annual prestigious Grammy Awards held in February of that year he won the Best Male Vocal Performance and Best Contemporary Male Solo Vocal Performance categories (for his recording of By The Time I Get To Phoenix) as well as winning the Best C&W Recording and Best C&W Solo Vocal Performance categories for Gentle On My Mind. The release of his album Hey Little One in June 1968 brought more chart success while the single Dreams Of The Everyday Housewife broke into the U.S. Top 40. A duet with Bobbie Gentry of Morning Glory entered the Billboard charts while their eponymous titled album Bobbie Gentry And Glen Campbell soared to number 11. The best was yet to come: the year ended with Campbell's album Wichita Lineman topping the U.S. charts for five weeks, and selling over half a million copies.
By 1969 Campbell's career was reaching new heights. When released as a single Wichita Lineman (another Jimmy Webb composition) reached number 3 in the U.S., and also provided Campbell with his first U.K. chart entry, reaching number 7 when released by Ember Records. Another duet with Bobbie Gentry (of Gilbert Becaud's Let It Be Me) broke into the U.S. Top 40. There was more recognition for Campbell at that year's Grammy Awards - By The Time I Get To Phoenix was named Album of the Year.
The hits continued flowing for Campbell - the anti-war song Galveston (yet another Webb song) reached number 4 in the U.S., and peaked at number 14 this side of the Atlantic. It eventually achieved gold status on Campbell's home territory. The album of the same title narrowly missed the top of the Billboard chart, stalling at number 2. Where's The Playground, Susie continued the run of hits from Webb and Campbell, climbing to number 26 in the U.S.
Campbell also had a change of career direction when he co-starred with cowboy legend John Wayne in the film True Grit (while his recording of the title song entered the Billboard Top 40). By the end of the decade Glen Campbell could seemingly do no wrong - among the accolades he attained during 1969 were being named Most Promising New Male Star by Photoplay magazine, Top Male Vocalist by the two top trade music trade magazines Billboard and Cashbox, and Top Male Vocalist, Top TV Personality and Album of the Year winner by the Academy of Country & Western Music. Glen was also a huge hit on television: after proving to be a popular guest artist on various variety shows, CBS gave him his own primetime TV series in January 1969 and it ran for over three years.
The Seventies began with yet more chart success for Glen - his duet with Bobbie Gentry of the Everly Brothers' oldie All I Have To Do Is Dream reached number 3 in the UK charts in January 1970 (and number 27 in the U.S.), while Glen Campbell - Live reached number 16 when released by Capitol in Britain. Further hits during the year included Try A Little Kindness (U.S. number 12), Honey Come Back (U.S. number 19/U.K. number 4) and It's Only Make Believe (U.S. number 19/ U.K. number 4).
Consolidating this recording success Campbell made his second silver screen appearance, in the movie Norwood, and also performed at the annual Royal Variety Show held at the London Palladium in November 1970. During 1971 Glen enjoyed more British chart success with Roy Orbison's Dream Baby (How Long Must I Dream). Meanwhile his album Glen Campbell's Greatest Hits sailed to number 8 in the U.K. and sustained a chart run of an incredible 113 weeks. Stateside the hits continued to come,
including I Will Never Pass This Way Again, Houston (I'm Comin' To See You), and I Knew Jesus (Before he Was A Star). By now Glen Campbell had his own 'star' on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, had hosted the Country Music Awards, and performed By the Time I Get To Phoenix at the annual Royal Film Performance in London at the personal request of the Queen Mother.
Glen Campbell returned to the chart forefront with a vengeance in 1975 when his recording of Larry Weiss' Rhinestone Cowboy triumphantly topped the American charts for two weeks, giving him his first ever number 1 single there. In the U.K. Glen's recording reached number 4. Rhinestone Cowboy was eventually certified gold in the U.S., and was named both Song and Single of the Year at the annual Academy of Country Music Awards (which Glen also hosted). By now Campbell was also hosting his own BBC TV series as well as touring successfully in the U.K and elsewhere around the world. In early 1976 he won the Favourite Single Pop/Rock and Favourite Single/Country categories at the third annual American Music Awards. In 1977 Glen Campbell once again topped the American pop charts with his version of Allen Toussaint's Southern Nights (which also broke into the U.K. Top 30).
Glen Campbell's reign as one of America's top-selling recordings artists was now at its height but nevertheless he continued to be a popular recording and performing artist during the remainder of the Seventies, and indeed throughout the Eighties and the Nineties. In 1990 By The Time I Get To Phoenix was named by the BMI in the U.S. as one of the most performed songs of the previous 50 years (with an estimated four million radio airplays in the U.S. alone) while Wichita Lineman was certified multi-platinum, with total sales of over two million achieved by January 1992.
Glen Campbell's long and enduring career has successfully embraced recording, live, TV and radio work, and films. Apart from his talents as a magnificent easy listening vocalist, he has also proved his mettle as a top guitarist, as proved by his work for The Beach Boys and Frank Sinatra (he played on Sinatra's chart-topping Strangers In the Night) among many other top recording acts. Campbell has dueted with names like Bobbie Gentry, Rita Coolidge, and Anne Murray, and he is regarded worldwide as a country music institution. His place in the pantheon of popular music has been well and truly deserved.
The songs featured in this magnificent new three-CD collection emphasise the wide range of Glen Campbell's vocal talents. Included alongside his personal hits like By The Time I Get To Phoenix, It's Only Make Believe, Gentle On My Mind, True Grit, Rhinestone Cowboy, Southern Nights, Dream Baby, Honey Come Back and Wichita Lineman are some of the best-loved pop standards of the last five decades, including Blowin' In the Wind, Take These Chains From My Heart, Yesterday When I Was Young, My Way, The Twelfth Of Never and Bridge Over Troubled Water. Glen stamps each song with his own very warm and individual style, and this is a collection that - like the singer himself - will have everlasting appeal.
(c) Chris White
1. I Walk The Line
2. God Only Knows
3. By The Time I Get To Phoenix
4. It's Only Make Believe
5. Bridge Over Troubled Water
6. Your Cheatin' Heart
7. Homeward Bound
8. Gentle On My Mind
9. (Sittin' On) The Dock Of The Bay
10. Both Sides Now
11. All The Way
12. Only The Lonely (Know The Way I Feel)
13. Annie's Song (Live)
14. Oh, Boy!
15. You'll Never Walk Alone
16. The Twelfth Of Never
17. The Impossible Dream
19. True Grit
20. My Way
1. Learnin' The Blues
2. Rhinestone Cowboy
3. Wichita Lineman
4. Break My Mind
5. Dream Baby (How Long Must I Dream)
6. Southern Nights
7. Until It's Time For You To Go
8. Universal Soldier
10. It's Over
11. Help Me Make It Through The Night
12. Mary In The Morning
14. Running Scared
15. Last Thing On My Mind
16. Yesterday, When I Was Young
17. My Girl
18. Catch The Wind
19. Without Her
20. You're My World
1. Tomorrow Never Comes
2. He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother
3. All I Have To Do Is Dream (with Bobbie Gentry)
4. Blowin' In The Wind
5. Elusive Butterfly
6. Everything A Man Could Ever Need
7. Country Boy (You Got Your Feet In L.A.)
8. Somethin' 'Bout You Baby I Like
(with Rita Coolidge)
9. Honey, Come Back
10. Classical Gas
11. Mr. Tambourine Man
12. (I Never Promised You) A Rose Garden
13. Wimoweh (The Lion Sleeps Tonight)
14. King Of The Road (Instrumental)
15. Little Green Apples (with Bobbie Gentry)
16. I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry
17. If Not For You
18. Reason To Believe
19. Take These Chains From My Heart
20. Cold, Cold Heart