January 29 – From Galveston To Phoenix & Beyond, Glen Was Everywhere

To borrow from the early-’70s hit, “When you’re hot, you’re hot.” And as the ’60s drew to a close, Glen Campbell was hot! The blonde Arkansas guitarist was increasingly popular as a musician and on this day in 1969 he got his own TV show, the Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour on CBS. That network saw the potential for photogenic musicians to crossover to TV clearly – two years later they gave Sonny and Cher a similar variety show, and before you know it every musical personality with…well, personality, it would seem had their shot at the primetime spotlight. The Captain and Tennille and Starland Vocal Band owe a big thank you to Glen, it would seem!

Campbell was an obvious candidate for the treatment. He was good-looking, “very congenial” as IMDB put it and a rising star in music with great connections. He’d been a part of the legendary “Wrecking Crew” set of session musicians in L.A., which had added the instrumentation to a variety of ’60s hit singles ranging from “I’m Not Your Steppin’ Stone” by the Monkees to “Up, Up and Away” by the Fifth Dimension to “Wouldn’t It Be Nice?” by the Beach Boys. He’d also had a solo career which was really starting to not only ramp up, but cross over from country (where he first got noticed) to the mainstream pop/AM radio markets. He’d won the Grammy for Album of the Year the year before, with By the Time I Get To Phoenix, had five straight #1 albums on the country charts and had recently had his first overall top 10 single with his cover of Jimmy Webb’s “Wichita Lineman”. Soon he’d have his first #1 hit with another Jimmy Webb tune, “Galveston.”

Campbell had been asked to sit in for the Smothers Brothers on their comedy/variety show in the summer of ’68 and did so well CBS decided to give him his own weekly hour. In the then-popular “variety” show method, the shows mixed musical pieces from guests with short comedy skits, something now largely gone from primetime but carried on to this day with Saturday Night Live.

For the first week, Campbell’s guests were appropriately enough, the Smothers’ Brothers and Bobbie Gentry. Gentry was obvious as he’d just recorded an album of duets with her which had gone gold in the U.S. and she was barely a year removed from topping the charts with “Ode to Billy Joe.” He’d famously have John Wayne on weeks later and hosted a great number of musical acts through the four-year run the show had. It was credited with starting Anne Murray’s career outside of Canada, he had Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings and Jerry Reed and Stevie Wonder among his musical guests and most ground-breaking for the time, The Beatles. Actually, the Fab Four weren’t real co-hosts, but the U.S. public did get to see videos they’d made for “Get Back” and “Don’t Let Me Down” for the very first time in April on Campbell’s show.

Of course, to go back to that Reed song, “When You’re Hot You’re Hot” one has to remember the next line… “When you’re not, you’re not.” By 1972, Glen Campbell was not. His musical career had stalled out, he’d perhaps run out of significant musical friends to have on and the public’s love of “rural TV” (as seen in shows like Hee Haw and Green acres) had diminished. The Goodtime Hour which had been the 15th most-watched show on TV in its first season had plummeted in the ratings and was canceled in June 1972.

Although Glen would never quite hit those heights again, he did have a bit of a career renaissance a few years later with another chart-topper, “Rhinestone Cowboy”. Sadly he passed away in 2017 after a long struggle with Alzheimer’s Disease

19 thoughts on “January 29 – From Galveston To Phoenix & Beyond, Glen Was Everywhere

  1. badfinger20 (Max)

    He was such a great guitar player…another one that was great was Roy Clark…both were looked over a bit.
    I do remember his TV show barely…him and Mac Davis’s show. The ending was terrible…I wouldn’t wish that on my worst enemy…I have to give him credit for touring and it was nice to see everyone so supportive…the audience would help him if he forgot lyrics.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. that is, or at least it would be young for it to be detected I’d think. Looking back, my mom might have exhibited signs of it when she was 60 or so but it took about two decades for it to become significant and a problem.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. badfinger20 (Max)

        What was so hard if it happened the same way…I would see her body and it was healthy for the longest time but she wasn’t there. She could move around with ease but it didn’t matter.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. yeah, I think it is often tougher on the family and friends than the person themselves. I don’t know if I’d rather lose my mind , so to speak, but be able to physically function or become invalid but of a sound mind. either seems a terrible thing.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. My wife works in an Alzheimers unit. She loves her work, advocates for them. I don’t know how she does it. I know of two teachers who affected me/my kids and to see them, once so full of knowledge slip into that nowhere land… terrible, sad, unfair, the words just don’t cut it.

        Liked by 1 person

      5. it is tough… my granddad, now he was a hotheaded, unfriendly type when I was young. By the time he was in a nursing home, he was friendly and chuckled but half the time I visited he didn’t even remember my Dad, let alone me. After explaining who my dad was, he’d look a bit puzzled then sometimes kind of see the light go on and he’d be like “Ernie had a son? Well well” and chuckle. Then I’d tell him he had two! My mom had fewer and fewer good days and more where she didn’t know anyone or anything around her in the last year or two. It’s tough. Would be a very difficult job to deal with, so compliments to your wife.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Nice write-up on Glen, Dave. Don’t forget his role as LaBoeuf alongside Kim Darby and John Wayne in True Grit in 1969. I loved him in that. I don’t remember his TV show which is strange, but it must have been on at the same time as something I watched on one of the other TWO channels lol

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Glen and Jimmy Webb, the perfect fit for writer and singer. The beginning of the show was the best opening on television, Glen and John Hartford on banjo playing Gentle On My Mind while mingling in with the audience. The late 60s were a wonderful time for music. I was a senior in high school in 1969 and when I hear a song of his, it takes me back. Bobbi Gentry wasn’t any slouch either.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I’m gonna go look at that…I imagine. I saw the show at least occasionally as a kid but I don’t remember any.
      You’re right about him & Webb – awesome writing/ performing duo.


  4. hanspostcard

    I may be wrong but I always thought the Glen Campbell television show- in the long run did him more harm than good– like Hee-Haw with Buck and Roy. Gave them a lot of exposure but also gave the big audience the wrong impression on their true talents.

    Liked by 1 person

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