Country Hall Of Fame Got It Right, Can Rock Hall Do The Same?

Glen Campbell

A universal superstar, Glen Campbell rocked the country

(No. 38 in a continuing series on artists who should be in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, but are not)

By Phill Marder

This blog started in September, but my first article on who belongs in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame actually ran in Goldmine over 10 years ago. Since that time, some from my original list were inducted and some who became eligible since have been added.

So my basic list has been in existence for quite some time. What I’m trying to tell you is that this week’s choice has been on that list since the beginning. I’ve passed him by until now because, for me, writing about him is a daunting assignment. But the recent sad news concerning him forced me to finally give it a shot. He has accomplished so much, it is ridiculous to try to summarize it, particularly in one blog entry. But I’m going to attempt it with the hope that maybe some of those responsible for nominating Hall of Fame candidates will delve a little deeper into his qualifications and make an intelligent choice.

So without further ado, let me present for your consideration – and the consideration of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame nominating committee – another musical giant thus far passed over.

I give you Glen Campbell.

Campbell recently turned 75 and has a new album “Ghost On The Canvas” due August 30, with a tour to follow. Unfortunately, it will be his final tour as he recently has been diagnosed with the early stages of Alzheimer’s.

One of Rock’s great guitarists, Campbell moved to Los Angeles in his early 20s and got his first real taste of notoriety with the Champs, who had recorded the Rock classic “Tequila” a couple years earlier. As his reputation spread, he became a member of the famous “Wrecking Crew” studio group that included drummer Hal Blaine and keyboardist Leon Russell, both members of the Hall of Fame, Tommy Tedesco, Al Casey and Carol Kaye. Of all the “Wrecking Crew” members, Campbell went on to have the most distinguished career, backing the likes of Elvis, Ricky Nelson, Bobby Darin, the Association, the Monkees, the Mamas & Papas and many more.

He filled in on bass and vocals with the Beach Boys when Brian Wilson first became incapacitated and sang on a minor 1967 hit by the group Sagittarius and on a 1964 top 10 record “Little Honda” by the Hondells.

Campbell really started opening eyes (and ears) when he began making regular appearances on “Shindig,” the weekly Rock show that had a two-year run with regulars including Russell, Darlene Love, Delaney Bramlett, Billy Preston and The Righteous Brothers. Campbell got to show off his playing prowess, but he also stunned audiences who were unaware of his vocal abilities.

After minimal success as a solo artist, Campbell finally made headway with his 1967 recording of John Hartford’s “Gentle On My Mind,” which earned Campbell Grammys for Best Country & Western solo performance by a male and Best Country Recording. But Campbell also won another two Grammys the same year for “By The Time I Get To Phoenix,” which carried off the Best Vocal Performance by a male and Best Contemporary Male Solo Vocal Performance, leaving no doubt Campbell had arrived.

Glen Campbell

 The next year, Campbell’s “By The Time I Get To Phoenix” album was given the Grammy for Album of the Year. The above two singles plus “Wichita Lineman” have all been awarded Grammy Hall of Fame status as well. The latter hit No. 3 and made the list of top 200 singles of all time in a 2004 list compiled by Rolling Stone. English journalist Stuart Maconie called it “the greatest pop song ever composed.” Of course, Campbell just recorded it. The tune was written by Jimmy Webb, who also composed “Phoenix,” but, though recorded by many, “Wichita Lineman” generally is associated with Campbell as is another Webb composition, “Galveston,” which hit No. 4 for Campbell in 1969. Thought to be a protest against the Vietnam War, Webb later revealed he actually had the Spanish-American War in mind when he wrote it.

Campbell also was busy revisiting early Rock chestnuts, doing covers of Jack Scott’s “Burning Bridges,” Roy Orbison’s “Only The Lonely” and “Dream Baby,” Dorsey Burnette’s “Hey Little One,” The Everly Brothers’ “Let It Be Me” and “All I Have To Do Is Dream” and Roger Miller’s “Little Green Apples” with Bobbie Gentry, and Conway Twitty’s “It’s Only Make Believe” and made them hits all over again.

But his biggest successes didn’t come until the mid to late ‘70s when he hit No. 1 with “Rhinestone Cowboy” and “Southern Nights.” All the while, his prolific output remained sprinkled with Rock classics.

Campbell also was a constant chart presence in the United Kingdom with eight top 40 singles, “Honey Come Back” and “It’s Only Make Believe” each peaking at No. 4 and six top 40 albums, “20 Golden Greats” topping the UK chart in 1971.

Detractors may complain that Campbell was a Country artist, therefore he shouldn’t be inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. But, as noted, much of his recorded output focused on Rock & Roll classics. And Country Music played just as important, or maybe even a more important role in the formation of Rock & Roll than did the more heralded blues. Many Country stars already are entrenched in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, those being Chet Atkins, Bob Wills & His Texas Playboys, Johnny Cash, Floyd Cramer, The Everly Brothers, Wanda Jackson, Brenda Lee, Carl Perkins, Jimmie Rodgers, and the greatest Country star of all, Hank Williams.

Thankfully, Campbell was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2005. But in 2007 he also was inducted into the Musicians’ Hall of Fame as a member of Rock’s most notorious studio band, The Wrecking Crew. And in 2008, Q Magazine, which presents highly regarded music awards for Britain, presented Campbell with the Q Legend Award.

Put it all together, and add the page after page of accomplishments not noted here (50 years in the business, over 70 albums, his own television series in addition to his work on “Shindig,” major roles in several motion pictures, including the original “True Grit,”) and you should come to just one conclusion…Glen Campbell belongs in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

 

 
 
 

 

8 thoughts on “Country Hall Of Fame Got It Right, Can Rock Hall Do The Same?

  1. Phill.
    I admire your courage and conviction as you endorse Glen for the Rock Hall. I personally consider Glen a country artist, but there’s no reason not to consider him for the Rock Hall since Johnny Cash and Hank Williams already paved that way. Unfortunately all too often the Hall will consider an artist for induction after they have passed on as was the case with Del Shannon and George Harrison. For the Hall to get it right, the surviving pioneers of rock ‘n roll must get the recognition due them while they are still with us. To that end, I hope the Hall not only inducts Glen, but also Paul Anka and Pat Boone before it’s too late.

  2. Hank I and Cash had a profound influence on rock and roll in different ways. I don’t think Glen Campbell passes that test. He was a guy who turned out a lot of pleasant but hardly groundbreaking stuff; sort of the Train or Pete Yorn of the 1960s C&W scene, if you will.

    If the Rock Hall gets into the business of inducting marginal cross-genre candidates, it will only further clog the process of recognizing innovative artists from the 1980s. Do you really think Glen Campbell should get in before Joy Division, Husker Du, The Smiths, or Steve Earle?

  3. The Smiths were profiled much earlier in this series. As far as “innovation” is concerned, that is entirely a matter of opinion. I’ve said many, many times a Hall of Fame should be for the famous, not for those you or I consider “innovative.” Just about anyone will recognize Glen Campbell. I’m not sure I can say the same for Joy Division, Husker Du or Steve Earle.

  4. I’ve been saying it for years! Join my facebook group I’ve had up since 2009: “Glen Campbell Should Be In The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame!!!”

  5. Interesting that it’s rock people who think the Country Music Hall of Fame got it right – country people, not so much!!!
    Flo -
    I don’t consider myself “rock people.” If I did, I might be taken for granite (sorry, couldn’t resist). Actually, I love all music with a heavy emphasis on traditional Country. But I understand your point.

    Phill

  6. You’re absolutely right. Glen should be in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, and should have been put there long before some who already occupy a space there. If not for his guitar work, many who are already there, might, arguably, not be. Yes, he is known more for his work as a country artist, but much of the problem here is due to the industry’s pigeon holing him into that genre because of his charming southern accent.

    Anyone with any musical listening skills at all would instantly recognize all of the rock music Glen has done. Listen to the album “The Big Bad Rock Guitar of Glen Campbell” for example. It’s an album that was put out toward the beginning of his career that is clearly rock. His work with the Champs, the Beach Boys, et al., should lend credence to his nomination and induction into the RRHF. He was one of the most sought after session guitarists in the 1960s. In fact, each member of the Wrecking Crew should have their own spot for their individual artistry in the various music halls.

    Glen has been one of a kind. He appealed to everyone in the late sixties and early seventies. He outsold the Beatles in 1969! My guess is, the powers that be at the RRHF are strongly considering Mr. Campbell for a spot and will confirm him there soon, because it would be a complete oversight on their part otherwise.

  7. It is absurd that Glen Campbell is not in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. He was essentially Brian Wilson’s handpicked studio guitarist on almost ALL of the Beach Boys records, he played on the Byrds version of “Mr. Tambourine Man”, did the guitar for Viva Las Vegas and also did many of the guitar parts for the Monkees who sold 65 million ROCK records. And anyone who has heard or seen the man play knows how amazing he was as a guitarist. He’s better than Stevie Ray Vaughn and Eric Clapton. Glen Campbell was not just a great guitar player he was one of the most important people in rock history. The fact he has not been inducted is a black eye for the Rock HOF.

  8. I believe Glen played the intro on the Beach Boys “Fun,Fun,Fun” somewhat similar to Chuck Berry’s “Johnny B. Goode” intro. and countless other works of art. That should get him some consideration for sure.

    Another point I would like to make is that you are looking at 40 some years ago. Rock music was a lot different then.

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