Tompall Glaser (1933-2013)

Tompall Glaser (1933-2013)

Tompall Glaser, one of Country’s famous “outlaws” and a 1970 CMA Award-winning artist, died Aug. 13 from an undisclosed illness. He was 79.

Though less heralded by mainstream audiences than Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson, Glaser played an equally vital role in launching Country Music’s Outlaw movement in the 1960s.

Born in Spalding, Neb., he joined younger brothers Chuck and Jim on their own radio show in nearby Hastings. Marty Robbins signed them to his Robbins Records label and brought them to Nashville in 1957. Two years later, they transferred to Decca Records. Success eluded them, though, until Johnny Cash took them on the road as backup singers. Cowboy Jack Clement then signed them to MGM Records in 1966. They issued a string of moderate hits and even won the CMA Vocal Group of the Year Award in 1970, but by the time they split in 1973, Tompall had already laid the foundation for the raw, rugged sound that would soon emerge as Outlaw Country.

Working from his studio, Hillbilly Central, Glaser hosted sessions with Jennings, Bobby Bare,  Kris Kristofferson, Billy Joe Shaver and other like-minded artists. The Glaser brothers also operated their own publishing company, with a catalog that included John Hartford’s “Gentle On My Mind” and He enjoyed exposure on his own too, with “Put Another Log on the Fire (Male Chauvinist National Anthem)” reaching No. 21 in 1974 and enjoying equal billing with Jennings, Nelson and Jessi Colter in 1976, on the Country Music’s first-ever Platinum-certified album, Wanted! The Outlaws.

The years that followed proved erratic for Glaser. He recorded several albums for MGM and ABC, quarreled and stopped speaking with Jennings, lost much of his savings and attempted a Glaser Brothers reunion in the early1980s. The group did achieve one more hit in 1981, with “Lovin’ Her Was Easier (Than Anything I’ll Ever Do Again), but before long they broke up again and Tompall returned to solo recording. His last album, Nights on the Borderline, dropped in 1986.