Country Music Legend of the Week – Glen Campbell [VIDEOS]
Becoming a bonafide living legend isn’t as easy as Glen Campbell makes it look. First, you have to have a solid foundation of talent on which to build — like being one of the hottest guitar players in the world.
Then you have to record songs that will stand the test of time — standards such as “By The Time I Get To Phoenix” and “Wichita Lineman.” And of course, to be a “living” legend, you need to survive the harsh reality of a celebrity lifestyle.
It certainly doesn’t hurt to have a witty, bantering stage style that draws fans like college students to Daytona Beach, or a hit television show viewed by 50 million people every week for three years.
When you put it all together, the result is a career that spans 50 plus years, with fans that cross generational and international lines. In other words: Glen Campbell.
Although Glen was already hitting the top of both the country and pop charts by 1969, the Goodtime Hour gave his career “legs.” The popular CBS musical variety series was simulcast on the BBC from England to Singapore to Australia and paved the way for five BBC specials. The exposure gave Glen a global presence he enjoys to this day, 40 plus years later.
Besides having one of the most successful variety shows in television history, Glen will be remembered as one of the best guitarists of his generation. His musicianship has inspired many of today’s most renowned pickers, including Alan Jackson, Steve Wariner, and Keith Urban and lives on in the tracks of the most legendary collections of the 20th century.
The success of the Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour was due to Glen’s triple-decker talent as a musician, singer, and humorist, and the guests he brought on his show. Glen gave viewers what they wanted: the best talent in a variety of entertainment and musical genres — Buck Owens, Lucille Ball, Eric Clapton, Cream, Kenny Rogers and The First Edition, Anne Murray, Ray Charles, Merle Haggard, Stevie Wonder, Neil Diamond, Johnny Cash, Cher, Ella Fitzgerald, and many more.
Glen’s tremendous impact on the artistic scene was an unlikely outcome for a sharecropper’s son, one of 12 children raised in rural Billstown, Arkansas. But Glen’s father recognized his talent early and bought his youngster a five-dollar Sears & Roebuck guitar. The child prodigy had conquered the instrument by the time he was 10. At 16, Glen left school to pursue music full time. He started in a three-piece combo with his uncle, Dick Bills, in Albuquerque, New Mexico, but was soon touring the Southwest fronting his own band.
"We had a lot of country, but we did every kind of music," Glen explains. "The Monkees were on, and so was Johnny Cash.” In 1969, Glen had a hit with “True Grit,” recorded for the soundtrack of the movie in which he starred with John Wayne. His star continued to shine through the next decade as well. Two of his singles landed at #1 on both country and pop charts: “Rhinestone Cowboy” in 1975 and “Southern Nights” in 1977.
In 1961, the 24-year-old musician hit the Los Angeles studio scene like a blast of fresh air. Glen quickly became a sought-after studio picker, his talents enriching records by such artists as Frank Sinatra, the Beach Boys, Nat King Cole, Dean Martin, Merle Haggard, Elvis Presley, Jan & Dean, and the Righteous Brothers. In addition, Phil Spector and Jimmy Bowen used him for most of their projects, and the Beach Boys invited him to join their group in the mid-sixties. He toured with the legendary band for 18 months from 1964 and 1965, until his own solo career took off.
In the 1990s, Glen released a series of gospel albums, which opened up new vistas for the star and garnered a prestigious Dove Award. His tell-all autobiography, Rhinestone Cowboy, shot to the best-seller list when it was released in 1994.
He released The Glen Campbell Collection (1962-1989) in 1997 and a new Christmas album in 1999. In August 2008, Glen returned to his longtime label Capitol Records, recording 10 new tracks for Meet Glen Campbell. This album welcomes the discovery and the re-discovery of the legend, his music, and his artistry.
The first music video from Glen Campbell's final studio album "Ghost On The Canvas" out now on Surfdog Records.