Black Music Matters Festival

Outlaw Country's Glaser dies at 79

Tuesday, August 13, 2013 – Tompall Glaser, a member of the country outlaw movement and the Grand Ole Opry, died Tuesday at 79 in Nashville after a long illness.

Thomas Paul Glaser, a Spalding, Neb., native, began performing with his brothers, Jim and Chuck, as The Glaser Brothers in the 1950s and later moved to Nashville after meeting Marty Robbins. The three Glasers sang back up for Robbins.

Between 1960 and 1975, the trio recorded 10 studio albums and charted nine singles on the Billboard Hot Country Singles chart. Rings hit number seven in 1971.

But they were not keen on the record label set-up, which softened the country sound away from traditional country. Tompall Glaser was associated with Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings and Kris Kristofferson in rebelling against the labels. The Glasers started their own music publishing company and recording studio, later called "Hillbilly Central." Jennings recorded his classic Dreaming My Dreams there with producer Cowboy Jack Clement, who just died last week.

"Tompall was way ahead of the game in terms of artist rights and taking control of the creative process, and encouraging people to do what was in their heart and soul, because he really had a lot of empathy for real artists," said recording engineer Kyle Lehning in a recently released documentary film about the Glaser Brothers.

Glaser appeared on "Wanted! The Outlaws," a 1976 compilation that included Nelson and Jennings. The album, which included his version of Shel Silverstein's Put Another Log on the Fire, became country music's first platinum-selling album. The song peaked at 21 on the Billboard Hot Country Singles chart in 1975.

"Tompall had a voice that, if he'd have been an actor, he'd have been Richard Burton," said singer-songwriter and friend Marshall Chapman.

Only two of Glaser's discs charted - "The Great Tompall and His Outlaw Band" hit 13 in 1975 and "Tompall Glaser & His Outlaws Band" hit 38 the following year.

Glaser co-wrote The Streets of Baltimore, which Bobby Bare took to number one in 1966, with Harlan Howard. The Glasers also recorded the song.

The band hit number two in 1981 with Lovin' Her Easier (Than Anything I'll Ever Do Again).