Glen Travis Campbell (born April 22, 1936) is a Grammy and Dove Award-winning and two time Golden Globe-nominated American country pop singer, guitarist and occasional actor. He is best known for a series of hits in the 1960s and 1970s, as well as for hosting a television variety show called The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour on CBS television.
Campbell's hits include John Hartford's "Gentle on My Mind", Jimmy Webb's "By the Time I Get to Phoenix" and "Wichita Lineman", Allen Toussaint's "Southern Nights" and Larry Weiss's "Rhinestone Cowboy". Campbell made history by winning a Grammy in both country and pop categories in 1967: "Gentle on My Mind" snatched the country honors, and "By the Time I Get to Phoenix" won in pop. He owns trophies for Male Vocalist of the Year from both the CMA and the ACM, and took the CMA's top honor as Entertainer of the Year.
During his 50 years in show business, Campbell has released more than 70 albums. He has sold 45 million records and racked up 12 RIAA Gold albums, 4 Platinum albums and 1 Double-Platinum album. Of his 75 trips up the charts, 27 landed in the Top 10. Campbell was hand-picked by actor John Wayne to play alongside him in the 1969 film True Grit, which gave Campbell a Golden Globe nomination for Most Promising Newcomer, and gave Wayne his only Academy Award. Campbell sang and had a hit with the title song (by the same name) which was nominated for an Academy Award. He performed it live at that year's Academy Awards Show.
In 2005, Campbell was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.
1950s?early 1960s: session musician and the Beach Boys
Campbell, one of twelve children born right outside the tiny community of Delight in Pike County, Arkansas, in a town called Billstown, then a community of fewer than one hundred residents, started playing guitar as a youth without learning to read music. Though widely reported that Glen is a seventh son of a seventh son, that information is not true.
By the time he was eighteen, he was touring the South as part of the Western Wranglers. In 1958, he moved to Los Angeles to become a session musician. He was part of the 1959 line-up of the group The Champs, famous for their instrumental "Tequila".
Campbell was in great demand as a session musician in the 1960s. He was part of the famous studio musicians clique known as "The Wrecking Crew," many of whom went from session to session together as the same group. In addition to Campbell, Hal Blaine on drums, Leon Russell on piano, Carol Kaye on bass guitar, and Al Casey on guitar were part of this elite group of session musicians that defined many pop and rock recordings of the era. They were also heard on Phil Spector's "Wall of Sound" recordings in the early 1960s.
He is heard on some of the biggest-selling records of the era by such artists as Bobby Darin, Ricky Nelson, The Kingston Trio, Merle Haggard, The Monkees, Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, The Troggs, Frankie Laine, The Association, Jan & Dean, and The Mamas & the Papas.
He was a touring member of The Beach Boys, filling in for Brian Wilson in 1964 and 1965. He played guitar on the group's Pet Sounds album, among other recordings. On tour, he played bass guitar and sang falsetto harmonies.
Other classics featuring his guitar playing include: "Strangers in the Night" by Frank Sinatra, "You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'" by The Righteous Brothers, and "I'm a Believer" by The Monkees.
He can be seen briefly in the 1965 film Baby the Rain Must Fall, playing guitar in support of Steve McQueen.
Campbell was also the uncredited lead vocalist on "My World Fell Down" by the psychedelic rock act Sagittarius, which became a minor hit in 1967.
As a solo artist, he had moderate success regionally with his first single, "Turn Around, Look at Me." "Too Late to Worry, Too Blue to Cry" and "Kentucky Means Paradise" (cut with a bluegrass group called the Green River Boys) were similarly popular within only a small section of the country audience.
In 1962, Campbell signed with Capitol Records and released two instrumental albums and a number of vocal albums during his first five years with the label. However, despite releasing singles written by Brian Wilson ("Guess I'm Dumb" in 1965) and Buffy Sainte-Marie the same year ("The Universal Soldier"), Campbell was not achieving major success as a solo artist. It was rumored that Capitol was considering dropping him from the label in 1966, when he was teamed with producer Al DeLory, and together they collaborated on 1967's Dylanesque "Gentle On My Mind," written by John Hartford.
The overnight success of "Gentle On My Mind" proved Campbell was ready to break through to the mainstream. It was followed by the even bigger triumph of "By the Time I Get to Phoenix" later in 1967, and "I Wanna Live" and "Wichita Lineman" in 1968.
Campbell would win two Grammy Awards, for his performances on "Gentle on My Mind" and "By the Time I Get to Phoenix."
His biggest hits in 1968-69 were with evocative songs written by Jimmy Webb: "By the Time I Get to Phoenix," "Wichita Lineman," "Where's The Playground, Susie?" and "Galveston." An album of mainly Webb-penned compositions, Reunion: The Songs of Jimmy Webb, was released in 1974, but it produced no hit single records.
"Wichita Lineman" was selected as one of the greatest songs of the 20th century by Mojo magazine in 1997 and by Blender in 2001.
1970s: The Goodtime Hour, Rhinestone Cowboy, and Southern Nights
After he hosted a 1968 summer replacement for television's The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour variety show, Campbell hosted his own weekly variety show, The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour, from January 1969 through June 1972. At the height of his popularity, a 1970 biography by Freda Kramer, The Glen Campbell Story, was published.
With Campbell's session-work connections, he hosted major names in music on his show including: The Beatles (on film), David Gates and Bread, The Monkees, Neil Diamond, Linda Ronstadt, Johnny Cash, Merle Haggard, Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, Roger Miller and helped launch the careers of Anne Murray, Mel Tillis and Jerry Reed who were regulars on his Goodtime Hour program.
In 1973, banjo player Carl Jackson joined Campbell's band for 12 years and went on to win two Grammy awards.
During the late 1960s and early 1970s, Campbell released a long series of singles and appeared in the movies True Grit (1969) with John Wayne and Kim Darby and Norwood (1970) with Kim Darby and Joe Namath.
In 1971, Campbell took his show The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour on the road for two nights to The Muny in Forest Park, (the largest and oldest outdoor theater in America) in St. Louis, Missouri.
After the cancellation of his CBS series in 1972, Campbell remained a regular on network television. He co-starred in a made-for-television movie, Strange Homecoming with Robert Culp and up and coming teen idol, Leif Garrett. He hosted a number of television specials, including 1976's Down Home, Down Under with Olivia Newton-John. He co-hosted the American Music Awards from 1976?78 and headlined the 1979 NBC special, "Glen Campbell: Back To Basics" with guest-stars Seals and Crofts and Brenda Lee. He was a guest on many network talk and variety shows, including: Donny & Marie, The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, Cher, The Redd Foxx Comedy Hour, Merv Griffin, The Midnight Special with Wolfman Jack, DINAH!, Evening at Pops with Arthur Fiedler and The Mike Douglas Show. From 1982?83 he hosted a 30 minute syndicated music show on NBC, The Glen Campbell Music Show.
In the mid-1970s, he had more big hits with "Rhinestone Cowboy", "Southern Nights" (both U.S. #1 hits), "Sunflower" (U.S. #39) (written by Neil Diamond), and "Country Boy (You Got Your Feet in L.A.)." (U.S. #11).
"Rhinestone Cowboy" was Campbell's largest-selling single, initially with over 2 million copies sold in a matter of months. Campbell had heard the songwriter Larry Weiss' version while on tour of Australia in 1974 and felt it was the perfect song for him to record. It was included in the Jaws movie parody song "Mr. Jaws" which also reached the top 10 in 1975. "Rhinestone Cowboy" continues to be used in movie soundtracks and TV shows, including "Desperate Housewives", Daddy Day Care, and High School High. It was the inspiration for the 1984 Dolly Parton/Sylvester Stallone movie Rhinestone.
Campbell made a techno/pop version of the song in 2002 with UK artists Rikki & Daz and went to the top 10 in the UK with the dance version and related music video.
"Southern Nights," by Allen Toussaint, his other #1 pop-rock-country crossover hit was generated with the help of Jimmy Webb who turned Campbell onto the song and Jerry Reed who inspired the famous guitar lick introduction to the song, which was the most-played jukebox number of 1977.
1980s?2000s: Later Career and Country Music Hall of Fame Induction
After his #1 crossover chart successes in the mid- to late 1970s, Campbell's career cooled off. He left Capitol Records in 1981 after a reported dispute over the song "Highwayman" written by Jimmy Webb that the label would not release as a single. The song would become a #1 country hit in 1985 when it was performed by The Highwaymen, a quartet of country legends: Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson, Waylon Jennings and Johnny Cash.
Campbell made a cameo appearance in the 1980 Clint Eastwood movie Any Which Way You Can, for which he recorded the title song.
Although he would never reach the top 40 pop charts after 1978, Glen Campbell continued to reach the country top 10 throughout the 1980s with songs such as "Faithless Love", "A Lady Like You", "Still Within The Sound of My Voice" and "The Hand That Rocks The Cradle" (a duet with Steve Wariner).
When Campbell began having trouble reaching the charts, he began to abuse himself with drugs. At the same time, he was frequently featured in the tabloids, particularly during his affair with Tanya Tucker. By 1989, however, he had quit drugs and was regularly reaching the country Top 10; songs like "She's Gone, Gone, Gone" were extremely popular.
In the 1990s, Campbell had slowed from recording, though he has not quit entirely. In all, over 40 of his albums reached the charts. In 1992, he voiced the character of Chanticleer in the animated film, Rock-A-Doodle. In 1994, his autobiography, Rhinestone Cowboy, was published.
In 1992 he began headlining the 4,000 seat Grand Palace theatre in Branson, Missouri. He would go on to open his own 2,000 seat theatre in the tourist town in 1994. The theatre was named The Glen Campbell Goodtime Theatre. Later he would leave his permanent residence in the Branson theatre district and would appear in limited engagements at the Grand Palace and Andy Williams? Moon River Theatre.
In 1999 Campbell was featured on VH-1's Behind the Music, A&E Network's Biography in 2001, and on a number of CMT programs. Campbell ranked 29th on CMT's 40 Greatest Men of Country Music in 2003.
He is also credited with giving Alan Jackson his first big break. Campbell met Jackson's wife (a flight attendant with Piedmont Airlines) at the Atlanta Airport and gave her his publishing manager's business card. Jackson went to work for Campbell's music publishing business in the early 1990s and later had many of his hit songs published in part by Campbell's company, Seventh Son Music. Campbell also served as an inspiration to Keith Urban. Urban cites Campbell as a strong influence on his performing career.
Although for almost a decade Campbell had professed his sobriety to fans at concerts and in his autobiography, in November 2003 he was arrested for drunk driving that included a charge of battery to a police officer (later dropped). He was sentenced to 10 days in jail and community service, due to the high level of intoxication.
In 2005, Campbell was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.
In February 2008, Glen performed with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra at The Sydney Opera House in his 'Farewell to Australia' tour. In the lead up to the tour, Campbell spoke with Country HQ in Dec 2007 in an interview where he not only reflected on his stellar career, but also his plans for the upcoming tour and more details on proposed CD with songwriter Jimmy Webb.
It was announced in April 2008 that Campbell was returning to his signature label, Capitol, to release his new album, Meet Glen Campbell. The album was released on August 19. With this album he has branched off in a different musical direction, covering tracks from artists such as Travis, U2, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Jackson Browne and Foo Fighters. It is Campbell's first release on Capitol in over 15 years. Musicians from Cheap Trick and Jellyfish contributed to the album as well. The first single, a cover of Green Day's "Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)", was released to radio in July 2008. Glen Campbell was a musical guest on The Late, Late Show with Craig Ferguson on February 13, 2009. Glen sang "Rhinestone Cowboy."
Campbell has been married 4 times and is the father of eight children, now ranging in age from 20 to 52 (5 sons and 3 daughters). Shortly after his second wife Billie divorced him in 1975, he had an affair with and later married singer Mac Davis' second wife, Sarah Barg, in 1976. They had one child together (Dillon) and then divorced. Subsequently, in his mid 40s he had a relationship with the 21 year-old country star Tanya Tucker.. He has been married to Kimberly Woolen since 1982. Woolen was a Radio City Music Hall Rockette when she and Glen met on a blind date in 1981. A few near-death drug experiences and an ultimatum from his wife led him to give up drugs and claim to give up alcohol. They have three children together. Glen's eldest daughter, Debby, has been touring across the globe with her father since 1987 and performs many of the duets made famous by Campbell with Bobbie Gentry and Anne Murray.
Glen is an avid golfer and hosted his namesake GLEN CAMPBELL LOS ANGELES OPEN Golf Tournament at the Riveria Country Club from 1971-83. It was a major event on the PGA circuit. Glen was ranked in the top #15 celebrity golfers list by Golf Digest magazine in 2005.