Rhinestone Cowboy

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"Rhinestone Cowboy"
Single by Glen Campbell
from the album Rhinestone Cowboy
B-side "Lovelight"
Released May 26, 1975
Format 7"
Recorded February–March 1975
Genre Country, pop
Length 3:08
Label Capitol
Writer(s) Larry Weiss
Producer(s) Dennis Lambert, Brian Potter
Certification Gold (RIAA), Silver (BPI)
Glen Campbell singles chronology
"It's a Sin When You Love Somebody"
"Rhinestone Cowboy"
"Country Boy (You Got Your Feet in L.A.)"

"Rhinestone Cowboy" is a song written by Larry Weiss and most famously recorded by American country music singer Glen Campbell with instrumental backing by the Wrecking Crew, L.A. session musicians.[1] The song enjoyed immense popularity with both country and pop audiences when it was released in 1975.

Background and writing[edit]

Weiss wrote and recorded "Rhinestone Cowboy" in 1974, and it appeared on his 20th Century Records album Black and Blue Suite. It did not however, have much of a commercial impact as a single. In late 1974, Campbell heard the song on the radio and, during a tour of Australia decided to learn the song. Soon after his return to the United States, Campbell went to Al Coury's office at Capitol Records, where he was approached about "a great new song" — "Rhinestone Cowboy."[2]

Several music writers noted that Campbell identified with the subject matter of "Rhinestone Cowboy" — survival and making it, particularly when the chips are down — very strongly. As Steven Thomas Erlewine of Allmusic put it, the song is about a veteran artist "who's aware that he's more than paid his dues during his career ... but is still surviving, and someday, he'll shine just like a rhinestone cowboy."[3]

Chart performance[edit]

Released in May 1975, "Rhinestone Cowboy" immediately caught on with both country and pop audiences. The song spent that summer climbing both the Billboard Hot Country Singles and Billboard Hot 100 charts before peaking at No. 1 by season's end - three non-consecutive weeks on the country chart, two weeks on the Hot 100. Billboard ranked it as the No. 2 song for 1975.[4]

During the week of September 13 — that was the week the song returned to No. 1 on the Billboard country chart, after having been nudged out for a week by "Feelins'" by Conway Twitty and Loretta Lynn — "Rhinestone Cowboy" topped both the country and Hot 100 charts simultaneously. This was the first time a song had accomplished the feat since November 1961, when "Big Bad John" by Jimmy Dean turned the trick.

"Rhinestone Cowboy" was one of six songs released in 1975 that topped both the Billboard Hot 100 and Billboard Hot Country Singles charts. The other songs were "Before the Next Teardrop Falls" by Freddy Fender; "(Hey Won't You Play) Another Somebody Done Somebody Wrong Song" by B.J. Thomas, "Thank God I'm a Country Boy" and "I'm Sorry"/"Calypso," both by John Denver; and "Convoy" by C.W. McCall.

The song was also the sole Glen Campbell track in a promotional-only compilation album issued by Capitol records titled "The Greatest Music Ever Sold" (Capitol SPRO-8511/8512), that was distributed to record stores during the 1976 Holiday season as part of Capitol's "Greatest Music Ever Sold" campaign, which promoted 15 "Best Of" albums released by the record label.

Chart positions[edit]

Chart (1975) Peak
Australia (Kent Music Report) 5[5]
Belgium (Ultratop 50 Flanders)[6] 4
Canada Country Tracks (RPM) 1
Canada Top Singles (RPM) 1
Canadian Adult Contemporary Tracks (RPM) 7
Germany (Official German Charts)[7] 31
Ireland (IRMA) 1
Netherlands (Dutch Top 40)[8] 3
New Zealand (Recorded Music NZ)[9] 2
South African Singles Chart 2
Sweden (Sverigetopplistan)[10] 17
U.K. Singles Chart 4
U.S. Billboard Hot Country Singles[11] 1
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 1
U.S. Billboard Hot Adult Contemporary Tracks[12] 1

Year-End Chart[edit]

Chart (1975) Peak
Irish Singles Chart 1
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 2
U.S. Cashbox Top 100 2
Canadian RPM Top Singles 4
U.K. Singles Chart 21
Belgian VRT Top 30 43
Australian Kent Music Report 50
Dutch Top 40 81


"Rhinestone Cowboy" was certified gold for sales of 1 million units by the Recording Industry Association of America. [2]

The song became one of Glen Campbell's signature songs and won numerous awards from the Country Music Association, Academy of Country Music, and American Music Awards. It also obtained nominations for a Grammy Award for Best Country Song as well as for Record of the Year, but did not win.

Use in films[edit]

"Rhinestone Cowboy" served as the basis for the 1984 movie Rhinestone, starring Sylvester Stallone and Dolly Parton.

The song also continues to be heard in movies and television, making the soundtracks of High School High and Daddy Day Care, as well as being used in an episode of "Desperate Housewives" and "The Jamie Foxx Show".


"Rhinestone Cowboy" has been covered by Thom Yorke and Radiohead, Soul Asylum, Belle and Sebastian, Lloyd Green, Charley Pride, Loretta Lynn, White Town, David Hasselhoff, DJ Z-Trip & DJ P, Daz Sampson, and Chris Ledoux.

Belgian singer Claire recorded the song in 1975 as "Vreemde Vogels" ("Strange Birds") and had a substantial hit with her version in Flanders.

Slim Whitman covered the song in 1976 on his Red River Valley album.

Renée Martel, a singer from Quebec, has made a French cover "Cowgirl Dorée" (lyrics by Robert Charlebois), as did French singer Michèle Torr ("Je M'appelle Michèle").

John Barrowman has made a cover version that he has sung during his UK concert tour.

Guns N' Roses performed the song live at the Tokyo Dome in Japan on December, 19, 2009.

Filipino singer/songwriter Fred Panopio recorded a Filipino novelty version titled "Kawawang Cowboy" ("Pitiful Cowboy").[13]

"Tony Clifton" prominently featured the song in his national tour of "The Return of Tony Clifton", backed by his Katrina Kiss My Ass Orchestra.

South African singer Ray Dylan covered it on his album "Goeie Ou Country - Vol.3".[14]

Micah Small & the Thrillbilly Band are recording and are scheduled to release their version of the song in 2015. It will be a single from their album "Falling Cow Zone" slated for release in September 2015.[citation needed]

Oakland-based Crying Time frequently performed the song in live shows during 2014-2015. It will appear on the band's sophomore release in late 2015.


Preceded by
"Please Mr. Please" by Olivia Newton-John
Billboard Easy Listening Singles number-one single by Glen Campbell
August 2, 1975 (one week)
Succeeded by
"At Seventeen" by Janis Ian
Preceded by
"Wasted Days and Wasted Nights" by Freddy Fender
Billboard Hot Country Singles number one single
August 23, 1975- August 30, 1975 (two weeks)
Succeeded by
"Feelins'" by Conway Twitty and Loretta Lynn
Preceded by
"Feelins'" by Conway Twitty and Loretta Lynn
Billboard Hot Country Singles
number one single

September 13, 1975 (one week)
Succeeded by
"Daydreams About Night Things" by Ronnie Milsap
Preceded by
"The Seeker" by Dolly Parton
RPM Country Tracks number-one single
August 30, 1975 (one week)
Succeeded by
"Please Mr. Please" by Olivia Newton-John
Preceded by
"Get Down Tonight" by KC and the Sunshine Band
Billboard Hot 100 number-one single
September 6, 1975 - September 13, 1975 (two weeks)
Succeeded by
"Fame" by David Bowie
Preceded by
"There Won't Be Anymore" by Charlie Rich
Billboard Hot Country Singles number-one single of the year
Succeeded by
"Convoy" by C. W. McCall


  1. ^ Hartman, Kent (2012). The Wrecking Crew. St. Martin’s Griffin. pp. 261–263. ISBN 978-1-250-03046-7. 
  2. ^ Gilbert, Bob and Gary Theroux, "The Top Ten: 1956-Present," Pop Record Research, Fireside Books, Simon & Schuster, New York. 1982 (ISBN 0-671-43215-X)
  3. ^ [1] Erlewine, Steven Thomas, "Rhinestone Cowboy" on Allmusic
  4. ^ Billboard Year-End Hot 100 singles of 1975
  5. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992. Australian Chart Book. ISBN 0-646-11917-6. 
  6. ^ "Ultratop.be – Glen Campbell – Rhinestone Cowboy" (in Dutch). Ultratop 50.
  7. ^ "Musicline.de – Glen Campbell Single-Chartverfolgung" (in German). Media Control Charts. PhonoNet GmbH.
  8. ^ "Nederlandse Top 40 – Glen Campbell search results" (in Dutch) Dutch Top 40.
  9. ^ "Charts.org.nz – Glen Campbell – Rhinestone Cowboy". Top 40 Singles.
  10. ^ "Swedishcharts.com – Glen Campbell – Rhinestone Cowboy". Singles Top 100.
  11. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). The Billboard Book Of Top 40 Country Hits: 1944-2006, Second edition. Record Research. p. 66. 
  12. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2002). Top Adult Contemporary: 1961-2001. Record Research. p. 44. 
  13. ^ Manila Bulletin - Fred Panopio Rides into the Sunset at 71
  14. ^ http://www.musica.co.za/cd/id/6005298031754/Ray_Dylan-Goeie_Ou_Country_-_Vol3 Retrieved 10 January 2014

External links[edit]