Thursday, September 15, 2011

Glen Campbell--Rhinestone Cowboy (1975)

     One of the things that can happen as one gets older is something I call generational arrogance. It's usually caused by an assumption that just because people of my age group knows something, that everyone (including anyone younger than us) ought to know it too. However after running into a few people who had no idea who he was, I found myself surprised that after over 250 blogs this year, that this song hadn't come up on my list of things to do. After just releasing his highly acclaimed album just a few weeks ago and heading off into retirement, it's time to remind folks that at one time, there wasn't a singer who was hotter on the pop or country charts than Glen Campbell

      I don't want to write a bio about him, but let's go over a few things that you might not know. First of all, he moved to California from Arkansas in the late 50's to be a guitar player and session man. He can first be heard on the 1959 hits, "Tequila" by the Champs. His distinctive guitar style moved him up quickly and soon became part of a group of  top session players called "The Wrecking Crew" who performed on a number of "A" list performers. He replaced Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys on the 1964/65 tour after Wilson had a nervous breakdown and retired from performing on stage. In fact, Glen was invited to join the Boys, but turned the opportunity down which eventually went to Brian Johnston.

      He had a few solo releases in the early/mid 60's, but it was his breakthrough single, "Gentle On My Mind" that put him on the map. It was his later hits, "By the Time I Get To Phoenix, Galveston, and Wichita Lineman, all written by Jimmy Webb that pushed him into superstar territory. He had his own television show for several years as well. Campbell's last burst on the pop charts was in the middle 70's, when several songs reached the top 10. The first one of those, become somewhat of a signature song.

      Larry Weiss wrote Rhinestone Cowboy and recorded it on his own album, "Black and Blue" in 1974. His version didn't make a dent, however a cover version later that year by Neil Diamond saw some action on the Adult Contemporary charts. Campbell first heard the song while on tour and was very impressed, as were the folks of Capitol. He would have another #1 within a year ("Southern Nights") and would have success on the country charts all the way up to the mid-80's.



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