Jimmy Webb is without doubt one of the most famous American songwriters of the late twentieth century. The fact that he has never really been appreciated as a performer in his own right no doubt rankles with Webb, but there is no denying that the most famous versions of his classic songs are associated with other performers. After studying music at California's San Bernadino Valley College, Webb got his start in the music business in the early 60s as a songwriter for the publishing arm of Motown Records. After a number of minor hits on the R&B charts, Webb broke through when Johnny Rivers recorded his brilliant By The Time I Get To Pheonix. Webb went on to work for Rivers's Soul City Records label, writing a series of major hits for The 5th Dimension, including the timeless Up, Up And Away. In the late 60s Webb's hugely successful association with Glen Campbell ensured he became one of the best known songwriters of his generation, with a sequence of superb hit singles that were both brilliant pop melodies and fine Americana in the same breath. Webb's attempts to launch a solo career foundered on his less than convincing vocals, although his albums have a certain low-key charm about them. He continued to enjoy songwriting success in later years, most notably with Art Garfunkel.
Followers: Rufus Wainwright, Elvis Costello, Paddy McAloon, Martin Carr
Influenced By: Cole Porter, Smokey Robinson, Phil Spector, Burt Bacharach
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