Glen Campbell became one of the first crossover superstars in country music in the ’70s, but before that the versatile singer and instrumentalist served a stint with the legendary Beach Boys.
Born in Arkansas in 1936, Campbell moved to Los Angeles in 1960 to become a session guitarist. He rapidly established himself as one of an elite group of A-list L.A. session musicians called the Wrecking Crew, playing on recordings by artists as diverse as the Monkee, Jan and Dean, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Nat King Cole, Merle Haggard, Simon and Garfunkel and many more.
Campbell played guitar on the Beach Boys’ landmark ‘Pet Sounds’ album, and following Brian Wilson’s breakdown and subsequent inability to tour, he joined the band on the road from December of 1964 until March of 1965. Campbell played bass and sang falsetto harmonies in the shows. According to industry lore, he was offered a permanent spot in the band, but turned the group down over a disagreement about royalties.
Instead, Campbell signed a solo deal with Capitol, and by 1967 he began a string of hits that would see him earn success in both the country and pop charts, including ‘Gentle on My Mind,’ ‘By the Time I Get to Phoenix,’ ‘Wichita Lineman,’ ‘Galveston’ and his signature song, ‘Rhinestone Cowboy.’ Campbell hosted a TV variety show for several years in the early ’70s, acted alongside John Wayne in ‘True Grit’ and earned an armload of awards, including Grammys, CMA and ACM awards. In 2005 he was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.