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Campbell, Glen (G. Travis C)

country pop string hits

Campbell, Glen (G. Travis C), country-pop vocalist and guitarist; b. Delight, Ark., April 22, 1936. Best-known for a string of mid-1960s crossover hits, Campbell has soldiered on in the country market, although with diminishing success.

Campbell was encouraged by other musicians in his family to take up the guitar at age four. By his teens, he was touring with his own country band, the Western Wranglers. At age 24, Campbell relocated to L.A., where he quickly found employment as a session guitarist, and scored a minor solo hit in 1961 with “Turn Around Look at Me.” Campbell worked comfortably in pop, country, and rock, and briefly toured as bassist for the Beach Boys after founder Brian Wilson suffered a nervous breakdown.

In the mid-1960s, Campbell signed to Capitol Records as a solo artist. The company first tried to promote him as an instrumentalist, releasing an LP of 12-string guitar instrumentais aimed at a general pop market. However, it was Campbell’s clear tenor, with only a hint of a country twang, which would gain him his hits as a pop crooner. His first hit, a cover of John Hartford’s “Gentle on My Mind” came in 1967, and was followed by a string of Jimmy Webb-penned soft-country hits (“By the Time I Get to Phoenix” “Wichita Lineman” “Galveston”). These songs all had pop arrangements, replete with string sections and vocal choruses, giving them an appeal for both pop and country audiences. Campbell’s career was furthered by his exposure as the host for a summer replacement program for the popular Smothers Brothers TV show, followed by his own variety show in 1969, plus film roles, most notably with John Wayne in True Grit .

Soon after, the hits stopped. Campbell returned to the charts in the mid- 1970s as a more country-oriented performer with “Rhinestone Cowboy” and “Southern Nights,” but then lapsed again into obscurity. Although he continues to perform both as a vocalist and instrumentalist, Campbell has failed to capitalize on his earlier success.

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