Glen Travis Campbell (April 22, 1936 – August 8, 2017) was an American singer, songwriter, musician, television host, and actor. He is best known for a series of hits in the 1960s and 1970s, and for hosting a music and comedy variety show called The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour on CBS television, from January 1969 through June 1972.
During his 50 years in show business, Campbell released more than 70 albums. He sold 45 million records and accumulated 12 RIAA gold albums, four platinum albums, and one double-platinum album. He placed a total of 80 different songs on either the Billboard Country Chart, Billboard Hot 100, or Adult Contemporary Chart, of which 29 made the top 10 and of which nine reached number one on at least one of those charts. Campbell’s hits include his recordings of 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”.
Campbell made history in 1967 by winning four Grammys in the country and pop categories. For “Gentle on My Mind”, he received two awards in country and western, “By the Time I Get to Phoenix” did the same in pop. Three of his early hits later won Grammy Hall of Fame Awards (2000, 2004, 2008), while Campbell himself won the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2012. He owns trophies for Male Vocalist of the Year from both the Country Music Association (CMA) and the Academy of Country Music (ACM), and took the CMA’s top award as 1968 Entertainer of the Year. Campbell appeared as a supporting role in the film True Grit (1969), which earned him a Golden Globe nomination for Most Promising Newcomer. Campbell also sang the title song, which was nominated for an Academy Award.
Glen Travis Campbell was born in Billstown, a tiny community near Delight in Pike County, Arkansas, to John Wesley (a sharecropper of Scottish ancestry) and Carrie Dell (Stone) Campbell. He was the seventh son of 12 children. He started playing guitar as a youth and he credited his uncle Boo for teaching him that instrument.
In 1954, Campbell moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico, to join his uncle’s band, known as Dick Bills and the Sandia Mountain Boys. He also appeared there on his uncle’s radio show and on K Circle B Time, the local children’s program on KOB television. In 1958, Campbell formed his own band, the Western Wranglers.
1960–1966: Early career
In 1960, Campbell moved to Los Angeles to become a session musician. That October, he joined the Champs. By January 1961, Campbell had found a daytime job at publishing company American Music, writing songs and recording demos. Because of these demos Campbell soon was in demand as a session musician and became part of a group of studio musicians later known as the Wrecking Crew. Campbell played on recordings by Bobby Darin, Ricky Nelson, Dean Martin, Nat King Cole, the Monkees, Nancy Sinatra, Merle Haggard, Jan and Dean, Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra, Ronnie Dove, and Phil Spector.
In May 1961, he left the Champs and was subsequently signed by Crest Records, a subsidiary of American Music. His first solo release, “Turn Around, Look at Me”, a moderate success, peaked at number 62 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1961. Campbell also formed the Gee Cees with former bandmembers from the Champs, performing at the Crossbow Inn in Van Nuys. The Gee Cees, too, released a single on Crest, the instrumental “Buzz Saw”, which did not chart.
In 1962, Campbell signed with Capitol Records. After minor initial success with “Too Late to Worry, Too Blue to Cry”, his first single for the label, and “Kentucky Means Paradise”, released by The Green River Boys featuring Glen Campbell, a string of unsuccessful singles and albums followed.
From 1964 on, Campbell began to appear on television as a regular on Star Route, a syndicated series hosted by Rod Cameron, ABC’s Shindig!, and Hollywood Jamboree.
From December 1964 to early March 1965, Campbell was a touring member of the Beach Boys, filling in for Brian Wilson, playing bass guitar and singing falsetto harmonies.
In 1965, he had his biggest solo hit yet, reaching number 45 on the Hot 100 with a version of Buffy Sainte-Marie’s “Universal Soldier”. Asked about the pacifist message of the song, he elected to assert that “people who are advocating burning draft cards should be hung.”
Campbell played guitar on the Beach Boys’ 1966 album Pet Sounds, among other recordings. In April that year, he joined Ricky Nelson on a tour through the Far East, again playing bass.
1967–1972: Burning Bridges to The Goodtime Hour
Campbell performing at the Michigan State Fair, c. 1970
When follow-up singles did not do well, and Capitol was considering dropping Campbell from the label in 1966, he was teamed with producer Al De Lory. Together, they first collaborated on “Burning Bridges” which became a top 20 country hit in early 1967, and the album of the same name. Campbell and De Lory collaborated again on 1967’s “Gentle on My Mind”, written by John Hartford, which was an overnight success. The song was followed by the bigger hit “By the Time I Get to Phoenix” later in 1967, and “I Wanna Live” and “Wichita Lineman” in 1968. Campbell won four Grammy Awards for his performances on “Gentle on My Mind” and “By the Time I Get to Phoenix”.
In 1967, Campbell was also the uncredited lead vocalist on “My World Fell Down” by Sagittarius, a studio group. The song reached number 70 on the Billboard Hot 100.
The 1969 song “True Grit” by composer Elmer Bernstein and lyricist Don Black, and sung by Campbell, who co-starred in the movie, received nominations for the Academy Award for Best Song and the Golden Globe for Best Original Song.
His biggest hits in the late 1960s were the songs written by Jimmy Webb: “By the Time I Get to Phoenix”, “Wichita Lineman”, “Galveston”, and “Where’s the Playground Susie”. 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” (1968) was selected as one of the greatest songs of the 20th century by Mojo magazine in 1997 and by Blender in 2001.
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, Bread, The Monkees, Neil Diamond, Linda Ronstadt, Johnny Cash, Merle Haggard, Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, Roger Miller, and Mel Tillis. Campbell helped launch the careers of Anne Murray and Jerry Reed, who were regulars on his Goodtime Hour program.
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.
1973–1979: “Rhinestone Cowboy” and “Southern Nights”
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 (1974), 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, The Merv Griffin Show, The Midnight Special with Wolfman Jack, DINAH!, Evening at Pops with Arthur Fiedler and The Mike Douglas Show. From 1982 to 1983, he hosted a 30-minute syndicated music show, The Glen Campbell Music Show.
In the mid-1970s, he had more hits with “Rhinestone Cowboy”, “Southern Nights” (both U.S. number one hits), “Sunflower” (U.S. number 39) (written by Neil Diamond), and “Country Boy (You Got Your Feet in L.A.)” (U.S. number 11).
“Rhinestone Cowboy” was Campbell’s largest-selling single, initially with over 2 million copies sold. Campbell had heard songwriter Larry Weiss’ version while on tour of Australia in 1974. The main phrase of Campbell’s recording was included in Dickie Goodman’s Jaws movie parody song “Mr. Jaws”. Both songs were in the October 4, 1975 Hot 100 top 10. “Rhinestone Cowboy” continues to be used in TV shows and films, including Desperate Housewives, Daddy Day Care, and High School High. It was the inspiration for the 1984 Dolly Parton/Sylvester Stallone movie Rhinestone. Campbell also 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 number one pop-rock-country crossover hit, was generated with the help of Jimmy Webb, and Jerry Reed, who inspired the famous guitar lick introduction to the song, which was the most-played jukebox number of 1977.
From 1971 to 1983, Campbell was the celebrity host of the Los Angeles Open, an annual professional golf tournament on the PGA Tour.
1980–2011: Later career
Campbell performing in Texas, January 2004
Campbell made a cameo appearance in the 1980 Clint Eastwood movie Any Which Way You Can, for which he recorded the title song. In 1991, he provided the voice of the Elvis Presley sound-alike rooster Chanticleer in the Don Bluth film Rock-a-Doodle. He gave up smoking on March 15, 1992, and believed his singing voice improved as a result. 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 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, who cites Campbell as a strong influence on his performing career.
In 2005, Campbell was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame. 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 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 was 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.
2011–2017: Illness and retirement
In March 2010, a then-farewell album titled Ghost on the Canvas was announced which served as a companion to Meet Glen Campbell (2008). Ghost on the Canvas was released on August 30, 2011, with collaborations that include Paul Westerberg (writer of the title track), The Wallflowers singer Jakob Dylan, Chris Isaak, Rick Nielsen and Billy Corgan of the Smashing Pumpkins.
Following his early 2011 Alzheimer’s diagnosis, Campbell embarked on a final “Goodbye Tour,” with three of his children joining him in his backup band. His final show was on November 30, 2012, in Napa, California. After the end of the tour, Campbell entered the studio in his home town Nashville to record what would be his final album, Adiós, which would not be revealed until five years later. According to his wife, Kim Campbell, he wanted to preserve “what magic was left”, in what would be his final recordings. In January 2013, Campbell recorded his final song, “I’m Not Gonna Miss You”, during what would be his last recording sessions. The song, which is featured in the 2014 documentary, Glen Campbell: I’ll Be Me, was released on September 30, 2014, with the documentary following on October 24. On January 15, 2015 Campbell and fellow songwriter Julian Raymond were nominated for Best Original Song at the 87th Academy Awards.
On August 30, 2016, during the 10th Annual ACM Honors, Keith Urban, Blake Shelton and others performed a medley of Glen Campbell’s songs in tribute to him. His wife Kim Campbell accepted the Career Achievement Award on his behalf.
In April 2017, Campbell’s final album, Adiós, was announced, featuring twelve songs from his final 2012–13 sessions. The album was released on June 9, 2017.
Relationships and children
Campbell was married four times, and fathered five sons and three daughters, ranging in year of birth from 1956 to 1986. Campbell’s eldest daughter is Debby, from his marriage (1955–1959) to Diane Kirk. After divorcing Kirk, Campbell married Billie Jean Nunley, a beautician from Carlsbad, New Mexico, who gave birth to Kelli, Travis, and Kane. Billie Campbell filed for divorce in 1975, and their divorce was final in 1976. Shortly after that, he married singer Mac Davis’ second wife, Sarah Barg, in September 1976. They had one child named Dillon and divorced three weeks after Dillon’s birth, in 1980.
Immediately after his divorce from Barg, Campbell began a relationship with fellow country artist Tanya Tucker, who was 22 years his junior. The relationship was marked by frequent tabloid gossip and articles. The couple recorded a number of songs together, including the single “Dream Lover”.
Campbell married Kimberly “Kim” Woollen in 1982. The couple met on a blind date in 1981 when Woollen was a Radio City Music Hall “Rockette”. Together, they had three children: Cal, Shannon, and Ashley. All three joined Campbell on stage, starting in 2010, as part of his touring band.
Campbell, who was raised in the Church of Christ, joined a Baptist Church in Phoenix along with his wife Kim. In a 2008 interview, they said that they had been adherents of Messianic Judaism for two decades.
Alcoholism and drug addiction
Campbell had problems with alcoholism and cocaine addiction for many years. He was arrested in 2003 and pleaded guilty to drunk driving and leaving the scene of an accident. He spent 10 days in jail.
On The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour television show, Campbell avoided political topics. Around this time, he described himself in interviews as “a registered Democrat but I voted Republican a few times”, and he performed in support of both Republican and Democratic politicians Campbell performed the National Anthem at the 1980 Republican National Convention and continued to make a number of campaign appearances for Republican candidates during the 1980s and 1990s.
In June 2011, Campbell announced he had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease six months earlier. According to his family, symptoms of the disease had been occurring for years, becoming increasingly evident as time progressed.
Campbell went on a final “Goodbye Tour” with three of his children joining him in his backup band. His final show was on November 30, 2012, in Napa, California. He performed “Rhinestone Cowboy” as a goodbye at the 2012 Grammy Awards ceremony held on February 12, 2012, his final televised on-stage performance.
In April 2014, news reports indicated that Campbell had become a patient at an Alzheimer’s long-term care and treatment facility. On March 4, 2015, Associated Press reported that two of Campbell’s children, Debby and Travis, had sought legal action against Campbell’s wife Kim, with the assertion she “secluded” the singer and prevented them from “participating” in Campbell’s medical care. Tanya Tucker fought for his children to visit with him.
On March 8, 2016, Rolling Stone reported that Campbell was living in a Nashville memory care facility and that he was in the “final stages” of his disease. He was unable to communicate with people or understand what people said to him. However, his family stated he was receiving good care and was “happy” and “cheerful.”
On Campbell’s 80th birthday, Jimmy Webb, with whom Campbell had frequently collaborated, announced he would launch a special edition of his national touring show on May 3, 2016, called “Jimmy Webb: The Glen Campbell Years”, at Nashville’s City Winery.
Campbell died of Alzheimer’s disease in Nashville, Tennessee, on August 8, 2017, six years after his diagnosis.
Discography and videography
Campbell recorded and released 58 studio albums and six live albums between 1962 and 2017. He also lent his vocals to four soundtracks for motion pictures: True Grit (1969), Norwood (1970), Rock-a-Doodle (1992), and the 2014 documentary film Glen Campbell: I’ll Be Me. He placed a total of 82 singles (one of which was a re-release) on either the Billboard Country Chart, the Billboard Hot 100, or the Adult Contemporary Chart, nine of which peaked at number one on at least one of those charts. He released 15 video albums and featured in 21 music videos. His first two music videos, “By the Time I Get to Phoenix” and “Wichita Lineman”, were directed by Gene Weed in 1967 and 1968, respectively. Campbell released his final music video, “I’m Not Gonna Miss You”, in 2014 to coincide with the release of the documentary Glen Campbell: I’ll Be Me. His final studio album, Adiós, was released on June 9, 2017.
|1965||Baby the Rain Must Fall||Band Member||Uncredited|
|1967||The F.B.I.||Larry Dana||Episode: “Force of Nature”|
|1967||The Cool Ones||Patrick|
|1969||True Grit||Le Boeuf|
|1974||Strange Homecoming||Bill Hasley||TV movie|
|1976||Christmas in Disneyland||Grandpa Jones / Disneyland visitor||TV movie|
|1980||Any Which Way You Can||Singer at Million Dollar Cowboy Bar|
|1986||Uphill All the Way||Capt. Hazeltine|
|1997||Players||Jesse Dalton||Episode: “In Concert”|
|2008||The Wrecking Crew (2008 film)||Documentary subject|
|2014||I’ll Be Me||Documentary subject|
Awards and honors
|1967||Best Male Country Vocal Performance||“Gentle on My Mind”||Won|
|Best Country & Western Recording||“Gentle on My Mind”||Won|
|Best Vocal Performance, Male||“By the Time I Get to Phoenix”||Won|
|Best Contemporary Vocal Performance, Male||“By the Time I Get to Phoenix”||Won|
|1968||Album of the Year||By the Time I Get to Phoenix||Won|
|Best Country Vocal Performance, Male||“I Wanna Live”||Nominated|
|Best Contemporary-Pop Vocal Performance, Male||“Wichita Lineman”||Nominated|
|Record of the Year||“Wichita Lineman”||Nominated|
|1975||Best Country Vocal Performance, Male||“Country Boy (You Got Your Feet in L.A.)”||Nominated|
|Best Pop Vocal Performance, Male||“Rhinestone Cowboy”||Nominated|
|Record of the Year||“Rhinestone Cowboy”||Nominated|
|1980||Best Country Vocal Performance by a Duo or Group||“Dream Lover” (duet with Tanya Tucker)||Nominated|
|1985||Best Inspirational Performance||No More Night||Nominated|
|1987||Best Country & Western Vocal Performance – Duet||“The Hand That Rocks the Cradle” (with Steve Wariner)||Nominated|
|Best Country & Western Vocal Performance – Duet||“You Are” (with Emmylou Harris)||Nominated|
|2000||Grammy Hall of Fame Award||“Wichita Lineman”||Won|
|2004||Grammy Hall of Fame Award||“By the Time I Get to Phoenix”||Won|
|2008||Grammy Hall of Fame Award||“Gentle on My Mind”||Won|
|2012||Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award||Won|
|2014||Best Country Song||“I’m Not Gonna Miss You” (shared with co-writer Julian Raymond)||Won|
|Best Song Written for Visual Media||“I’m Not Gonna Miss You”||Nominated|
Academy of Country Music
|1967||Single of the Year||“Gentle on My Mind”||Won|
|Album of the Year||Gentle on My Mind||Won|
|Top Male Vocalist||Won|
|1968||Album of the Year||Bobbie Gentry and Glen Campbell||Won|
|Top Male Vocalist||Won|
|TV Personality of the Year||Won|
|1971||TV Personality of the Year||Won|
|1975||Single of the Year||“Rhinestone Cowboy”||Won|
|2014||Video of the Year||“I’m Not Gonna Miss You”||Nominated|
|2016||Career Achievement Award||Won|
- American Music Awards
- 1976: Favorite Pop/Rock Single – “Rhinestone Cowboy”
- 1976: Favorite Country Single – “Rhinestone Cowboy”
- 1977: Favorite Country Album – Rhinestone Cowboy
- Country Music Association Awards
- 1968: Entertainer of the Year
- 1968: Male Vocalist of the Year
- GMA Dove Awards
- 1986: Album by a Secular Artist – No More Night
- 1992: Southern Gospel Recorded Song of the Year – “Where Shadows Never Fall”
- 2000: Country Album of the Year – A Glen Campbell Christmas
- Other honors
- 1968: Music Operators of America (MOA) Awards – Artist of the Year
- 1974: Country Music Association of Great Britain’s Entertainer of the Year
- 2005: Country Music Hall of Fame induction
- 2007: Musicians Hall of Fame induction (as a member of The Wrecking Crew)
- 2008: Q Legend Award
- 2012: Country Radio Broadcasters, Inc. Career Achievement Award
- 2014: HMMA Lifetime Achievement Award
- 2014: Academy Award nomination for “I’m Not Gonna Miss You” (co-writer); sung by Tim McGraw
- Allen, Bob. (1998). “Glen Campbell”. In The Encyclopedia of Country Music. Paul Kingsbury, Editor. New York: Oxford University Press. pp. 76–77
- Official Website
- Glen Campbell at DMOZ
- Glen Campbell at AllMusic
- Glen Campbell on IMDb
- Full References at Wiki
Glen Campbell at Theatregold Database Singer – Actor – Rhinestone Cowboy