Today marks the 54th anniversary of what many consider the turning point in Glen Campbell’s career. On this day in 1967, he gathered a group of session musicians and recorded one of his most famous songs: “Gentle on My Mind.”
Before Glen Campbell hit it big with songs like “Wichita Lineman,” and “Galveston,” he was a session musician. He was undoubtedly one of the most talented men to pick up a guitar. However, when he branched out on his own, Campbell found it hard to land a hit song. In fact, his songs missed the mark so often that he was on the verge of being dropped from his label. So, Glen knew he had to do something. It was a real make-or-break time for him.
Before we get too deep into the lore of the song, watch Glen Campbell play it in front of some of the biggest names in country music. The performance is from Ryman Country Homecoming, a TV special featuring some of the greatest artists in country music. They all got together at the Mother Church to pick, sing, and tell stories. Just listen to how Glen plays. The man’s chops are undeniable.
Listening to the Radio Changed Glen Campbell’s Career
According to The Country Daily, Glen Campbell was on his way to a recording session when he first heard “Gentle on My Mind.” He got in his car, turned on the radio, and headed to work. That’s when he heard John Hartford’s original version of the song. Campbell knew he had to record it. To him, the song had a “freshness of spirit,” and it stuck with him.
Before long, Glen Campbell brought some of his fellow session players together to cut a rough demo of the song. Then, he left the tape for his producer to listen to. Al De Lory fell in love with the song immediately. He cleaned up the demo a little and released it to the radio without telling Campbell about it.
“Gentle on My Mind,” had modest chart success in its initial release. A year later, they released the song again and it performed a little better. However, it never approached the top-10. On the other hand, it did bring in some serious recognition.
Glen Campbell took home four Grammy Awards in 1967. Two of those awards were for, “Gentle on My Mind.” The song won Campbell Best Country Vocal Performance as well as Best Country and Western Recording. John Hartford shared in the latter of the two for writing the song.
Campbell would go on to use the song as the theme for the Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour from 1969 to 1972. Before his passing in 2017, “Gentle on My Mind,” was a staple of his live shows.