Jim Glaser Interview
Tompall and Chuck
Jim Glaser and his brothers (Tompall and Chuck) won virtually every group
award Country Music had to offer.
Jim Glaser sang with the likes of Marty Robbins, The Jordanaires, Charley
Pride, and Wayne Newton to name just a few.
As a songwriter, his songs have been recorded by Marty Robbins, Johnny
Cash, Hank Snow, Skeeter Davis,Waylon
Jennings and Bill Anderson.
He co-wrote the song “Woman Woman” which became a big hit for
Gary Puckett and the Union Gap.
Jim set out on his own in 1980 and his first release “When You’re
Not A Lady” still holds the record for being the most successful first
release of a new label, staying on the national charts an incredible 34
In 1984, his “You’re Getting To Me Again,” hit Number
One on Billboards charts and he was voted Top New Male Vocalist by the
Academy of Country Music.
“Man In The Mirror” stayed on Billboard’s Magazine’s
Album charts for over a year and a half. The album contained six singles,
four of which were Top Ten records on Billboard’s charts.
Jim Glaser was kind enough to take some time off from a very demanding
schedule to answer some questions.
Q – Jim, how did you make the transition from
being a background singer to a singer in your own right?
A – I’d always wanted to record as a solo artist. Ray Stevens
produced a couple of singles on me for Monument Records and Chet Atkins
who headed RCA for many years offered me a contract with Danny Davis
as my producer. A bit later, Allen Reynolds who produced all those hits
on Don Williams and Crystal Gayle produced an album and a couple of singles
on me for MGM. Our records were beginning to move up the charts when
MGM closed their entire operation. Next, Owen Bradley legendary Nashville
producer and head of MCA at the time produced a couple of singles on me
that made the charts but failed to reach the Top 20. It wasn’t until
the early 1980’s that I scored several Top Tens and a Number One on
Noble Vision Records, a small independent label out of Atlanta.
Q – Why did you and your brothers’ part
A – I’m sorry; I don’t answer questions about that.
Q – Is that how you started in the business-----as
part of a singing act with your brothers?
A - Yes. Marty Robbins came through Nebraska on tour and our father took
us to the concert. He talked his way backstage and asked Marty if he’d
listen to his sons sing. Marty agreed, liked what he heard and invited us
to come to Nashville. He started Robbins Records for us and released our
first singles. We were known as Tompall and the Glaser Brothers and we toured
with Marty for two and a half years.
Q – How did you get to sing that high part on Marty Robbins “ El
Paso”? Why were you selected?
A – We were on the road with Marty at the time, and in those days
Marty traveled in two cars or station wagons. Bobby Sykes, who opened
shows and played rhythm guitar, and I rode in the same vehicle as Robbins
and when Marty played his ukulele, sang old songs to pass the miles,
Bobby and I would sing harmony with him. A lot of the songs we’d sing
were Western songs and Marty decided to do an album of them. Half would
be old Western standards and half would be new Western songs. We all tried
our hand at writing songs in that genre and Marty did record three of mine.
But, it was Marty who wrote the classic ‘ El Paso’ which took
him several months to complete. He’d bring the new lyrics he’d
written along on tour. I’d lay out the harmony parts, and Bobby and
I would sing along with Marty. He loved our sound and asked us to sing
on the album.
Q – How were you treated in the studio by people
like Marty Robbins, Johnny Cash and Hank Snow?
A – Great! We had toured with Marty of course and also toured with
Johnny Cash in the early 60’s after we’d quit touring with Marty.
Johnny worked some really memorable venues such as Carnegie Hall in New
York City and Steel Pier in Atlantic City. Hank Snow had been my idol growing
up on the farm and in the 60’s he lived right down the street from
me. He became friends with my brothers and me and often when I was visiting
him, he’d ask me to sing for him and his wife Minnie, some of his
old songs from the 50’s. I had learned his exact phrasing on those
songs as a kid and it pleased Hank immensely. The studio work with him was
only a small part of our relationship with Hank.
Q – You and your brothers were with Patsy Cline for her debut in
Las Vegas’s Mint Casino just weeks before her death. How was Patsy
Cline received in Las Vegas? What was her mood at the time?
A – Patsy was one of the first Country Music artists from Nashville
to work in Las Vegas and she was thrilled as well and a bit intimidated.
She had some special material written for her show at the Mint Lounge
and had several rehearsals with the Glaser Brothers and the band we’d
put together for her show. The Mint Lounge was actually quite small and
Tompall and the Glaser Brothers did four 45 minute sets and then Patsy
did her four sets. I worked in the band for her show, too,
and was on stage nearly 8 hours a day. But, I didn’t care, I was young
and this was Las Vegas! Patsy had laryngitis for the first 2 or 3 days
and actually had to lip sync her records on those shows. But, she was an
awesome singer and when her voice came back, she had the show business
people talking and coming to see her show in that tiny venue. Her appearances
there opened the door for many other Country music acts that began working
Las Vegas in different venues.
Q – You co-wrote the song “Woman Woman” for
Gary Puckett. Who was the co-writer on that song?
A – Jimmy Payne. Jimmy had been in the Army with my brother Chuck
who invited Jimmy to come to Nashville when their hitches were up. Chuck
got Jimmy a recording contract with Epic Records and Jimmy and I decided
to write a song for his next session. I remembered a verse to a song
started one night on my way home from appearing on the Grand Ole Opry.
written the lines down on the back of an old envelope and threw it in
the drawer with all my other unfinished ideas. So, I dug them out and showed
the lines to Jimmy. He liked them so we finished the song together and
he recorded it. The Union Gap’s producer heard Jimmy’s record
on a Country station in Los Angeles and recorded the song with the new group.
The verse I’d written that night on my way home from the Opry is word
for word the last verse of ‘Woman Woman’.
Q – This is rather odd, none of your children
elected to go into the music business. Why is that?
A – Actually, two of them did. Lynn, our oldest daughter and Jeff,
our oldest son, both played in rock bands and worked clubs all over
the United States. Both of them ultimately moved on to other careers, Lynn
in the production of films, commercials, television, and country music
videos and Jeff owns a retail outlet called
the Hemp Store in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. Our daughter
Connie is an ultrasound technologist and radiological technologist and
has her own ultra sound business, Premier Mobile Health. Our youngest son
Jim II, lives near Seattle and is a truck driver.
Q – Do you like what you hear in Country music
A – I love Country Music and always will. I won’t say I like
all the music I hear these days but, I’ve never liked all of the music
in any genre at any given time. Country music is always changing and evolving.
It’s changed a lot since I arrived in Nashville in 1958.
Q – What keeps you busy these days? Do you
write? Do you still tour?
A – I’m mostly retired, but, I still do a few concerts. I usually
work at Dollywood (Dolly Parton’s theme park) for several days a year
and occasionally go overseas. I still write, though not as much as I used
to. My last CD ‘Me And My Dream’ was released in 2004 and contains
several songs I wrote especially for the album.
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