In 1975, Waylon Jennings sang about the death of country and the artists who sold out for "rhinestone shoes and new shiny cars".
One of those stars was Glen Campbell, singer of Rhinestone Cowboy and son of the Nashville Sound – the genre which set out to save country music from rock’n’roll and ended up dividing it in half.
Campbell grew up listening to the lightning jazz of Django Reinhardt, and left his small town in Arkansas to become a hired hand for music studios.
Praised for his guitar skills, he made his career playing for Elvis Presley, the Monkees, Dean Martin and Bobby Darin at a time when old-fashioned country music was being crushed by the international power of rock’n’roll.
The Nashville Sound was a response to that. A subgenre of country, born in the studios of Tennessee, swapping old-time honky tonk for commercial pop.
Soon, the old fiddle and guitar were gone, replaced by croons and catchy chorus. The revolution worked, and saved country music from its lonesome fate – but not everyone was happy.
While Campbell was gearing up in Hollywood to release his very first solo single, Buck Owens was migrating from Texas to California to start the Bakersfield Sound – a rootsy response to the sell-outs of Nashville.
Bakersfield country aimed to bring honky tonk back and started the so-called country rock movement which would later influence bands like the Eagles and Creedence Clear Water Revival.
Back in Hollywood, Campbell was already a success – but far from the country music scene. He was touring with the Beach Boys, replacing the haunted Brian Wilson and lending his falsetto and guitar to Pet Sounds.
After that, his solo career took off. In the late 1960s, he dropped Hollywood-based Capitol Records and went country with Galveston, Wichita Lineman and By The Time I Get To Phoenix.
These were Campbell’s collaborations with songwriter Jimmy Webb and arguably his biggest hits. They were a perfect mix between country and pop, an evolution of the Nashville Sound which became known in the early 1970s as Countrypolitan.
Five year later, the genre would be heavily criticised by the purist revolutionaries of the so-called outlaw country movement, which included Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash and Kris Kristofferson – some of whom had come from a pop background themselves.
Nelson started off as a crooner and a songwriter, while Kristofferson had a pop spell during the 1970s when his sales were down.
While all this was happening around him, Campbell seemed unscathed – immune to the fight between country, country pop and country rock.
His primetime TV show The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour made him close friends with artists from all sides of the spectrum, including Cash, Nelson and even The Beatles – whom Campbell outsold in 1968.
From the late 1960s to the early 1980s, Campbell recorded more than 40 country songs and 34 pop hits.
In 1983, he made his debut at the Grand Ole Opry – the sanctuary of the Nashville Sound which famously kicked out Hank Williams and was abandoned by country purists.
I felt my music wasn’t aiming at anybody, he told The Guardian in 2005.
Music is music. It doesn’t matter if I am trying to aim at country or trying to aim at pop. I am just trying to do a song the best possible way I can.
By the end of his career, Campbell released an album titled Adios.
Listening to it, you will find everything from his Jimmy Webb days, to Bob Dylan, Fred Neil and Willie Nelson. It was all his eclectic collection together in a short but meaningful farewell.
By then, he had recovered from alcoholism and bad marriages. Like his friend Cash before him, he found Christ and made piece with himself and those around him. His music never needed to.