Glen Travis Campbell, 22 April 1936, Delight, Arkansas, USA. Campbell came from a musical family and began his career with his uncles Dick Bills Band in 1954, before forming Glen Campbell And The Western Wranglers four years later. By the end of the 50s he had moved to Los Angeles, where he became a renowned session player and one of the finest guitarists in Hollywood. After briefly joining the Champs, he released a solo single, Too Late To Worry, Too Blue To Cry, which crept into the US Hot 100. Ever in demand, he took on the arduous task of replacing Brian Wilson on touring commitments with the Beach Boys. Campbells period as a Beach Boy was short-lived and he soon returned to session work and recording, even enjoying a minor hit with Buffy Sainte-Maries The Universal Soldier. By 1967, Capitol Records were seriously promoting Campbell as an artist in his own right. The breakthrough came with an accomplished version of John Hartfords Gentle On My Mind, which won a Grammy award for Best Country & Western Recording of 1967.
Campbells finest work was recorded during the late 60s, most notably a superb trilogy of hits written by Jimmy Webb. By The Time I Get To Phoenix, Wichita Lineman and Galveston were richly evocative compositions, full of yearning for towns in America that have seldom been celebrated in the annals of popular music. By this stage of his career, Campbell was actively pursuing television work and even starred with John Wayne in the 1969 movie True Grit. He recorded some duets with country singer Bobbie Gentry, including a revival of the Everly Brothers All I Have To Do Is Dream, which proved a worldwide smash hit. Further hits followed, including Honey Come Back, Its Only Make Believe and Dream Baby. There was a second movie appearance in Norwood (1970) and another duet album, this time with Anne Murray.
Campbells hit record output slowed somewhat in the early 70s, but by the mid-decade he had found second wind and belatedly registered his first US number 1 single with Rhinestone Cowboy. Two years later he repeated that feat with a cover version of Allen Touissants Southern Nights. Numerous hit compilations followed and Campbell found himself still in demand as a duettist with such artists as Rita Coolidge and Tanya Tucker. By the late 70s, he had become a C&W institution, regularly releasing albums, touring and appearing on television. In 1988, he returned to his young provider Jim Webb for the title track to Still Within The Sound Of My Voice. The 90s saw Campbell concentrating more on live work, performing regularly at his Goodtime Theater in Branson, Missouri. He also released a series of gospel albums and seasonal collections, and in 1994 published his autobiography. Campbell is also a keen amateur golfer and it was on the way home from a game in November 2003 that he was involved in a minor car accident. He was later arrested at his home for being DUI and scuffled with police while in custody. He was sentenced to 10 days in prison the following June. Campbell was inducted into the Country Music Hall Of Fame in November 2005. However, he refused to rest on his laurels, and in late 2008 released a well-reviewed album of earnest covers of a deft variety of music, ranging from the Velvet Underground to Foo Fighters to the Replacements to Travis.
Campbells career is most remarkable for its scope. A brilliant guitarist, star session player, temporary Beach Boy, first-class interpreter, television personality, strong vocalist, in-demand duettist and country idol, he has run the gamut of American music and rarely faltered.
Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.