It was hard to escape Glen Campbell in the late ’60s. His music was everywhere.
Outside the country genre, he played guitar on Elvis Presley’s Viva Las Vegas, the Monkees 1966 self-titled debut, the Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds and other recordings by the Everly Brothers, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Nat King Cole and Jan & Dean. In addition to sessions for producer Phil Spector, Campbell also worked on at least two Merle Haggard albums, including 1966’s Swinging Doors.
And that all happened before Campbell won his first of four Grammy awards for “Gentle on My Mind” and “By the Time I Get to Phoenix” in 1967. In 1968, he became the first country artist to win a Grammy for album of the year for By the Time I Get to Phoenix.
His variety show, the Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour, ran on CBS from 1968 to 1972. And he had a career as movie actor, appearing in 1969’s True Grit, 1970’s Norwood and the 1974 TV movie, Strange Homecoming.
His final album, Adiós, was released in June.
Enjoy videos of and a little background on 10 essential Campbell hits:
1. “By the Time I Get to Phoenix”
This is the title track of Campbell’s 1967 album, and it was the first of his many hits written by Jimmy Webb. The 11-song collection included his version of Paul Simon’s “Homeward Bound” and “Bad Seed” written by Bill Anderson. “By the Time I Get to Phoenix” held at No. 2 for two weeks on Billboard’s country chart in Oct. 1967 and won Campbell two Grammys for best vocal performance, male and best contemporary male solo vocal performance. It was also nominated in the all-genre categories for record and best contemporary single of the year.
2. “Wichita Lineman”
Another Webb hit for Campbell, “Wichita Lineman” is the title track of Campbell’s 1968 album and it was a two-week No. 1 for the Arkansas native that year. The 11-song collection featured a cover of Otis Redding’s “(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay,” “You Better Sit Down Kids” by Sonny Bono and the Bee Gees’ “Words.” It was also in 1968 that Campbell became the first country artist to win a Grammy album of the year for By the Time I Get to Phoenix. “Wichita Lineman” was also nominated in the Grammy categories for record of the year and best contemporary-pop vocal performance, male.
3. “Gentle on My Mind”
This song, written by John Hartford, was a two-time Grammy winner in 1967 for best country & western recording and best country & western solo vocal performance, male. It is the title track of Campbell’s 1967 album, which featured versions of Roy Orbison’s “Crying” and Donovan’s “Catch the Wind.” The Band Perry’s version of “Gentle on My Mind” won the Grammy for best country duo/group performance in 2014.
This was the third Webb hit for Campbell, and it was a three-week No. 1 in 1969.
5. “Try a Little Kindness”
Co-written by Bobby Austin and Curt Sapaugh, “Try a Little Kindness” opened Campbell’s 1970 album of the same title, which also featured a version of Joni Mitchell’s “Both Sides Now.” “Try a Little Kindness” peaked at No. 2 on Billboard’s country chart in Oct. 1969.
6. “Rhinestone Cowboy”
“Rhinestone Cowboy,” written by Larry Weiss, was a three-week No. 1 in summer 1975, and it went on to win the CMA Award for song of the year. The song was a two-time Grammy nominee for record and best pop vocal performance, male at the 18th annual Grammy awards. And it is the title track of Campbell’s 1975 album, which included his versions of Randy Newman’s “Marie” and “My Girl” by the Temptations.
7. “Country Boy (You’ve Got Your Feet in L.A.)”
This song is also from Rhinestone Cowboy, and it was nominated for best country vocal performance, male at the 18th annual Grammy awards. It held at No. 3 for two weeks in 1975.
8. “Southern Nights”
Although he would continue to accumulate hits through the 1980s, Campbell’s version of this Allen Toussaint classic from 1977 is his final No. 1. It is the opening title track of Campbell’s 10-song 1977 album, which includes a version of Neil Diamond’s “Sunflower.”
9. “The Hand That Rocks the Cradle” with Steve Wariner
This Wariner collaboration written by Ted Harris peaked at No. 6 on Billboard’s country chart in May 1987. It is from Campbell’s 10-track 1987 album, Still Within the Sound of My Voice.
10. “She’s Gone, Gone, Gone”
This Harlan Howard original was first recorded by Lefty Frizzell and appeared on Campbell’s 1990 album, Walkin’ In the Sun. It peaked at No. 6 in 1989 and was Campbell’s final song to crack the Top 10.