Monday, February 21, 2011

Session Man to Star

Which Number One hit of the late 1950s had a one-word lyric?

Come on give it a shot (answer to follow).

I got interested in this subject when old friend and guitarist John Mergendoller sent me this trivia from his flatpick list serve. Session players and their careers are intriguing because of their non-linear paths. In this case the song created by session men and written by sax player Chuck Rio stayed on the charts for 19 weeks, sold six million copies and won a Grammy. Although some may call it an instrumental, we all remember it for the lyric:


Among those who later played with The Champs were Jim Seals and Dash Crofts and a young guitarist who also toured with the Beach Boys when Brian Wilson decided to stay at home: Glen Campbell.

In addition to his Rand-McNally hits (Galveston, Phoenix, Wichita and Southern Nights), he  got his own television series, his own golf tournament (in LA) and eventually his own theater in Branson, Mo. He also appeared in the first True Grit film. He learned how to do supporting roles back in his session days, I imagine, which must have been pretty heady.

According to the R&R encyclopedia, he played for Frank Sinatra, Rick Nelson, Johnny Cash and the Mamas and Papas, as well several of Phil Spector's bands who created the walls of sound. His session buddies, known as "The Wrecking Crew," included another future star, piano player Leon Russell.

Glen's stats are impressive, 70 albums, 45 million in sales and in 1967 he won four Grammys, including album of the year in the pop division and a second for a different album in the country category.
Take that Lady Gaga!

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