Writer(s): Larry Weiss (see lyrics here)
Released: May 26, 1975
First Charted: May 31, 1975
Peak: 12 US, 11 CB, 2 GR, 11 HR, 4 RR, 11 AC, 13 CW, 4 UK, 11 CN, 5 AU, 1 DF (Click for codes to singles charts.)
Sales (in millions): 2.0 US
Airplay/Streaming (in millions): 1.0 radio, 42.5 video, 51.39 streaming
Click on award for more details.
About the Song:
“Rhinestone Cowboy” was written by Larry Weiss, who said “the song was a cyring-out of myself…It was the spirit of a bunch of us on Broadway, where I started out…We all had dreams of making it.” TR When he heard someone use the phrase “rhinestone cowboy,” it struck him as “sort of a summation of all of my childhood cowboy movie heroes.” TR
Weiss recorded the song for his own Black and Blue Suite album and it was released as a single, reaching #24 on the adult contemporary chart. Glen Campbell heard the song on the radio in Los Angeles. He bought the album and listened to it while on tour in Australia. When Campbell returned, he said Capitol Records A&R vice president Al Coury told him, “‘You got to cut this song.’ He put on ‘Rhinestone Cowboy’ and I laughed – that was the one I had brought in for him to hear.” TR
Campbell was a noted session musician in the 1960s who’d contributed to #1 hits by the Champs (“Tequila”), the Beach Boys (“I Get Around”), and Frank Sinatra (“Strangers in the Night”). FB He also started having success on his own, reaching the pinnacle of the country charts three times that decade with “I Wanna Live,” “Wichita Lineman,” and “Galveston.” It was “Rhinestone Cowboy,” however, which gave him the biggest hit of his career, topping the country and pop charts simultaneously – the first time that had had happened since Jimmy Dean’s “Big Bad John” in November 1961. WK
The song was about “a country singer who has seen it all” SF and “the compromises musicians have to make in the record business.” AMG Campbell definitely related, calling it his “philosophy song.” TR He also said it “maybe the best song I’ve ever sung.” SF
First posted 11/3/2021; last updated 11/28/2022.