Jimmy Webb is a singer and very talented songwriter who composed many tunes that became familiar to fans of twentieth century pop music.
He was born Jimmy Layne Webb in Elk City, Oklahoma in 1946. The son of a Baptist minister, he enjoyed music from an early age and played piano in his father's churches. The first record he bought was Turn Around, Look at Me by Glen Campbell in 1961, a singer he greatly admired. In 1964 the family moved to Southern California and Webb enrolled in music courses at San Bernardino Valley College. When the family returned to Oklahoma a short time later, Webb remained on the West Coast to pursue a songwriting career in Los Angeles. Webb began to write commercial jingles, founding a jingle company before moving on to songwriting. He wrote music for Motown's Jobet Music, and for singer Johnny Rivers. Webb composed songs that became huge hits nationally for well-known artists in the late 60's, such as the Fifth Dimension (Up- Up and Away), Glen Campbell (By The Time I Get To Phoenix, Wichita Lineman, Galveston), Brooklyn Bridge (Worst That Could Happen), and Richard Harris (MacArthur Park). Jimmy Webb was one of the first to write, produce and arrange complete record albums for other artists, such as A Tramp Shining and The Yard Went On Forever for Harris, Sunshower for Thelma Houston, and The Magic Garden for the Fifth Dimension. He began to pick up Grammy Awards, most notably for Up-Up and Away as Song of the Year and Record of the Year in 1967. By the time he was 21, Webb was a millionaire. In the 1970's he lived in Encino, California, where he became friends with such well-known entertainment personalities as Harry Nilsson, Joni Mitchell, and Michael Douglas. He was married for over twenty years to model Patsy Sullivan (the daughter of actor Barry Sullivan), a marriage that produced six children.
As a singer his first recording was Love Years Coming in 1967, although he never reached the top 40 as a solo artist. He continued his association with some very well known artists, including Joe Cocker, the Supremes, Glen Campbell, and Art Garfunkel. Altough his singing voice was not much above average, he did very good interpretations of songs he had written himself and recorded albums in the 70's and early 80's, usually backed by excellent session musicians from the West Coast. Among these were Letters, Land's End, and El Mirage. He recorded a number of other LP's of his own music as well.
Songs composed by Jimmy Webb became popular and were sought out and recorded by a wide variety of recording artists, including Frank Sinatra, John Denver, Arlo Guthrie, Linda Ronstadt, Lowell George, Donna Summer, Judy Collins, Kenny Rogers, and Waylon Jennings. By the end of the 70's he had cooled off somewhat, but stayed with the music business and had a comeback of sorts in 1985 with Highwayman (from the album by the same title), which he originally wrote for Glen Campbell. The hit version was recorded by a group of music legends that included Waylon Jennings, Kris Kristofferson, Willie Nelson, and Johnny Cash.
In the 80's and 90's and into the 21st century Webb remained active with songwriting, arranging, and producing. He produced the soundtrack for the movie The Hanoi Hilton. He continued performing as well, getting involved with projects in recording, televison and movies. In 2004 he re-married and went on to establish a home on Long Island. Webb is acknowledged as one of the finest songwriters of his time, and has picked up numerous awards including the National Academy of Songwriters Lifetime Achievement Award. Jimmy maintains a web site at www.jimmywebb.com. Some of the songs that are closely associated with Jimmy Webb include Up-Up and Away, Wichita Lineman, Galveston, Worst That Could Happen, and MacArthur Park, all of which were top ten pop songs.
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