I debated for an entire day on whether or not to write this blog.  As Brand Manager of 99X, I'm responsible for making sure that all of the content we create serves The Rock Station's brand.  I also happen to love the music we play.  From Pink Floyd to Volbeat, I love it all.  So, ordinarily Glen Campbell doesn't exactly fit the image we've cultivated for 99X.

But then I got to thinking.  Regardless of which genre his music falls into, Glen Campbell was an artist that mattered.  His imprint is on hundreds of songs that defined popular music in the 60's and 70's.  Few guitarists in the history of music played on as many hits as he did.  Few singers had the sales and chart success that he had. So, even if he wasn't a rock god, Glen Campbell was a musical giant.

The news of Glen Campbell's death came as sad news to me on Tuesday.  My parents were big fans of his when I was a little kid, and I remember his music playing around the house and on the car radio.  I was born in Galveston, Texas, and when I heard Glen's recording of Jimmy Webb's song "Galveston", I thought that was the coolest thing in the world.  I even had a poster of Glen on my wall for a few years in my childhood.  It never occurred to me to question what genre of music his songs were, I just knew that I liked them.

Glen Campbell was one of the original crossover artists.  His diversity in chart performance is unparalleled in music history.  82 of his songs charted on either the Billboard Country Chart, The Billboard Hot 100, or Billboard Adult Contemporary Chart. Glen sang 29 songs that reached the Top 10, nine of which went to #1 on at least one of those charts.

But Glen was so much more than a country-pop crossover artist.  In fact, it's hard to overestimate the imprint that he has left on music history--period. Try to pigeonhole him into a genre where you will; Glen Campbell was a consummate musician.

A guitar prodigy by age 10, Glen left his home in Arkansas in his teens to pursue a music career. In Los Angles in the early 60's he began to land session gigs with the group of musicians who became collectively known as the Wrecking Crew. Glen's virtuosic skills became highly sought after, and his guitar work can be heard on numerous classics.  Just a few of these are listed here:

  • "I Get Around" by The Beach Boys
  • "Viva Las Vega" by Elvis
  • "Mr. Tambourine Man" by The Byrds
  • "Mama Tried" by Merle Haggard
  • "Strangers In The Night" by Frank Sinatra

To this day, I think that Glen's collaborations with Jimmy Webb on "By The Time I Get To Phoenix", "Wichita Lineman", and "Galveston" are three of the finest songs ever created.  Call it Pop, Country, Rock--it doesn't matter; pure talent must be acknowledged and given its due.  Glen Campbell was pure talent personified.