Friday, January 21, 2011

Jimmy Webb

Famed songsmith and Oklahoma native Jimmy Webb has been elected chairman of the

board of the Songwriters Hall of Fame.


Published: January 21, 2011


The board of directors elected Webb, 64, after Hal David opted last month to step down

after more than a decade as chairman of the Songwriters Hall.

Born the son of a Baptist minister in Elk City, Webb is the rare superstar songwriter. He

has won critical acclaim and scored a series of memorable hits dating back more than 40

years. He is the only recording artist to receive Grammy Awards for music, lyrics and


Webb has been inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame, the Nashville Songwriters

Hall of Fame and the Oklahoma Hall of Fame.

In 2003, he received the Songwriters Hall of Fame's prestigious Johnny Mercer Award,

named for the organization's co-founder.

A music enthusiast since childhood, Webb followed his musical aspirations to Los

Angeles in the 1960s and scored a series of five top-10 hits within a 20-month period

that propelled him to international fame.

He is best known for penning classic hits for Glen Campbell ("By the Time I Get to

Phoenix," "Wichita Lineman," "Galveston"), Richard Harris ("MacArthur Park," "Didn't

We"), The Fifth Dimension, ("Up, Up and Away," "This Is Your Life"), The Brooklyn

Bridge ("Worst That Could Happen"), Art Garfunkel ("All I Know"), Joe Cocker ("The

Moon's a Harsh Mistress") and many others.

In the late 1980s, Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash and Kris Kristofferson

topped the charts with a new Webb anthem, "The Highwayman," that won him a

Grammy for country song of the year. Linda Ronstadt, who has recorded many of

Webb's works throughout her career, included four of his songs on her 1989 doubleplatinum

album, "Cry Like a Rainstorm, Howl Like the Wind," and notched a top-10

single in 1990 with her rendition of his "Adios."

But Webb continues to write new songs and record albums. Stars from Tony Bennett

and Rosemary Clooney to Urge Overkill and R.E.M. have cut his songs for their albums.

Judy Collins featured his intricate ballad "Gauguin" on her 2010 record, "Paradise."

In addition, Webb has been recording and releasing his own albums for years, including

the acclaimed 2010 retrospective "Just Across the River," which features fellow

Oklahoma native Vince Gill, Billy Joel, Jackson Browne, Willie Nelson, Campbell and

Ronstadt performing duets with Webb on a selection of his classic songs.

Webb also has scored films, made music for television and in 1999 wrote "Tunesmith,"

which Musician magazine heralded as the "finest book about songwriting of our time."

"You can put him in the top five of all time of songwriters. I would," Gill said of Webb in

a phone interview last week. "He's even nicer than he is talented, if that's possible. And

... he's a fellow Okie, and there's something about a lot of these Okies that I really like.

I'm really proud of where I'm from, and anytime you see one doing great, you just kind

of swell up with a little bit of 'way to go.' You know, it makes us all look good."

In a news release, Webb called it an honor to be elected chairman of the Songwriters

Hall of Fame, which he said is "poised to expand its role in preserving the legacy of the

music creators of the past and helping to educate and inspire the songwriters of the


"I've been a very lucky guy," Webb said in a phone interview last fall with The

Oklahoman. "I've heard Mr. Sinatra record my songs, (and) Barbra Streisand. On this

new album alone, I'm hearing Billy Joel sing my music, I'm hearing Vince Gill, who ...

may very well be the best singer in the world, and Linda Ronstadt, we have our little

duet moment on 'All I Know.' Linda's an iconic figure in American music all by herself.

"This is a very rich time for me to know that in my 60s that I'm still able to experience

these rushes of disbelief, you know, that life could be so wonderful at this age and so

rewarding, really."

For more information on the Songwriters Hall, go to

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