He had a beautiful, warm distinctive voice who certainly left his mark. Campbell sold 45 million albums via more than 70 albums. Between all the Billboard charts Campbell placed 80 different tunes on those countdowns – 29 in the Top 10.
Campbell will always be remembered for John Hartford’s “Gentle on My Mind”; Jimmy Webb’s “By the Time I Get to Phoenix”, “Wichita Lineman”, and “Galveston”; Larry Weiss’s “Rhinestone Cowboy”; and Allen Toussaint’s “Southern Nights”.
He was born on April 22, 1936 in a tiny community called Billstown in Pike County Arkansas. He was the seventh son of 12 children.
He is best known for a series of hits in the 1960s and 1970s, and for hosting a variety show called ‘The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour’ on CBS television.
In 1969 actor John Wayne picked Campbell to play alongside him in the film True Grit, which gave Campbell a Golden Globe nomination for Most Promising Newcomer. Campbell sang the title song which was nominated for an Academy Award.
Campbell was an amazing guitarist. It was his uncle Boo who taught him how to play. At 15 he moved to Albuquerque to join his band and radio show. His first serious group were the ‘Western Wranglers.’
Hi guitar chops soon became famous. By 1960 Campbell was a session player in Los Angeles. He became part of an incredibly respected group of backup musicians called ‘The Wrecking Crew’ playing with Bobby Darin, Ricky Nelson, Dean Martin, Nat King Cole, The Monkees, Nancy Sinatra, Merle Haggard, Jan and Dean, Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra and Phil Spector.
In 1961 Campbell was at the American Music publishing company writing music as a day job. His first solo charting song, “Turn Around Look at Me”came out the same year. It peaked at #61 on Billboard.
Before the hits came Campbell was on TV Star Route, ABC’s Shindig! and Hollywood Jamboree.
He replaced Brian Wilson in the Beach Boys and played guitar on their classic ‘Pet Sounds’ album. There was also a tour with Ricky Nelson.
Campbell was striving. He was working hard but soon he became the Glen Campbell that we all knew.
His first bonafide hit was the title song from his 1967 album, ‘Gentle on my Mind.’ It would peak at #30 on the country charts.
“By the Time I Get to Phoenix” started to solidify what would become one of the most successful country/pop cross-over acts of all time. He went # 1 on the country charts with “I Wanna Live,” “Wichita Lineman,” “Galveston,” Rhinestone Cowboy,” “Southern Nights.” All hits on the pop charts as well.
“Rhinestone Cowboy,” became a phenomenon. It was his biggest selling 2 million copies.
All the success came at a price, he faced alcoholism and cocaine addiction during his career.
In 2005, Campbell was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.
In June 2011, Campbell announced he had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. He had been showing symptoms for about six months.
His final performance was at Grammy Awards ceremony held on February 12, 2012. He performed “Rhinestone Cowboy.”
He was one of the great ones. – by John Beaudin
John Beaudin has been in major market radio (Edmonton, Vancouver & Calgary) for 33 years and a music journalist since 1989. He graduated from Broadcasting school as a news man so he would have the skills to write about the artists that inspired him since he bought his first album, “Madman Across The Water” by Elton John as a teen. In the 80’s Beaudin was the host of the syndicated radio show “The Cross Canada Report” which had two version (Rock and A/C). Beaudin was also asked to be a judge at the Juno Awards (Canada’s answer to the Grammys) Twice. He has anchored every position in radio including morning and afternoon drive and was a Program and Music Director for The Breeze and California 103 in Calgary. He currently hosts the popular Lovesongs at QM-FM in Vancouver and on iHeartRadio.
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