American Song Master
Jimmy Webb is one of the preeminent songwriters of the last 50 years. His songs “Wichita Lineman,” “Galveston,” “MacArthur Park” and more have been heard by millions of people. He is the only artist to have ever received Grammy Awards for music, lyrics, and orchestration, and according to BMI, his song “By the Time I Get to Phoenix” was the 3rd most performed song between 1940 and 1990.
Born in Oklahoma, Webb moved to California with his family and stayed there to study music. After some music transcription work, 19-year old Webb met Johnny Rivers, who signed him to a publishing deal and recorded “By the Time I Get to Phoenix” on his 1966 album Changes. This started a string of successes for Webb, and he saw his songs recorded by The 5th Dimension, Glen Campbell, Isaac Hayes and Waylon Jennings, garnering several Grammy Awards between 1967 and 1969.
As a performer, Webb also met with critical acclaim. His debut, Words and Music, was released in late 1970, with Rolling Stone calling his song “P.F. Sloan a “masterpiece [that] could not be improved upon.” Webb released six albums between 1970 and 1982, each uniformly praised for their creative music and forthright lyrics.
While his songs continued to be performed by the likes of Tanya Tucker and Art Garfunkel, Webb was focusing on larger scale projects, like film scores, Broadway musicals, and classical music. He returned to recording in the 1990s, and in 1998 published Tunesmith: Inside the Art of Songwriting.
What Other People Have Been Saying...
“Jimmy Webb is the most important pop music figure to emerge since Bob Dylan.” -Peter Reilly, Stereo Review
“Webb reminds audiences why this preacher’s son from Oklahoma has been a hit maker since the age of 16 and a beacon through five generations of the Great American Songbook.” – Idaho Statesman