Glen Campbell was born April 22, 1936, in Delight, Ark., as the seventh son in a family of 12 children. He came from a musical family (that made its living as sharecroppers) and began his career with his uncle's Dick Bills Band in 1954, before forming Glen Campbell and the Western Wranglers four years later. By the end of the '50s, he had moved to Los Angeles where he became a renowned session player and one of the finest guitarists in Hollywood. His sessions included work for the Mamas and the Papas, Ricky Nelson, Frank Sinatra, Merle Haggard and Bobby Darin, among others.
After briefly joining the Champs -- an instrumental band best known for the hit "Tequila" -- he released a solo single, "Too Late to Worry, Too Blue to Cry," which crept into the charts. He also briefly replaced Brian Wilson on the Beach Boys' tours. However, Campbell's period as a Beach Boy was short-lived, and he soon returned to session work and recording, even enjoying a minor hit with Buffy Sainte-Marie's "The Universal Soldier."
By 1967, Capitol Records were seriously promoting Campbell as an artist in his own right. Having already spent five years on the label, the breakthrough came with an accomplished version of John Hartford's "Gentle on My Mind," which won a Grammy in 1967. (It only reached No. 30 on the Billboard country singles chart.) In 1968, he won the CMA's male vocalist and entertainer of the year awards. A trilogy of hits written by Jimmy Webb -- "By the Time I Get to Phoenix," "Wichita Lineman" and "Galveston" -- kept Campbell on the charts through the close of the 1960s. Other memorable hits from that era include "I Wanna Live" and "Dreams of the Everyday Housewife."
By this stage of his career, Campbell was actively pursuing television work. He hosted the TV variety series The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour from 1968 to 1972 and starred with John Wayne in the 1969 movie True Grit. He also paired with Bobbie Gentry for the hit duets of the Everly Brothers' "Let It Be Me" and "All I Have to Do Is Dream."
For a few years in the early 1970s, his chart momentum cooled, until the Urban Cowboy craze catapulted "Rhinestone Cowboy" to No. 1 in 1975. The anthem became his signature hit, and he reached No. 1 again in 1977 with "Southern Nights." Throughout the 1980s, he notched a handful of Top 10 hits but struggled with drug addictions, three divorces and a scandalous romance with Tanya Tucker, who was then in her early 20s.
Campbell published Rhinestone Cowboy: An Autobiography in 1994 and has recorded several gospel albums. He was arrested for DUI in 2003, after a hit-and-run traffic accident in Phoenix where he now lives.