James Layne “Jimmy” Webb is an American composer, singer, and songwriter. A writer of many multi-platinum hits, Webb is a recipient of the National Academy of Songwriters Lifetime Achievement Award of 1993. He was also inducted in the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1990 and the Songwriters Hall of Fame of the American National Academy of Popular Music in 1986. To this day, Jimmy Webb is the only artist to have ever received Grammy Awards in all three category for music, lyrics, and orchestration.
Jimmy Webb was born on August 15, 1946 in Elk City, Oklahoma. He was introduced to music at an early age and as a child he was made to take lessons on the piano and the organ. By the time he was twelve, Webb was a part of his father’s church choir.
At the age of twenty, Webb enrolled at the San Bernardino Valley College, where he furthered his education in music. However, he was forced to cut short his education due to his mother’s death in 1965, even so, Webb embarked on a songwriting career. He started off as a music transcriber for local publishing firms in Los Angeles, and after his success, he was awarded a songwriting contract with the publishing house named “Motown Records”. With Motown, Webb wrote and released “My Christmas Tree”, which would be performed by “The Supremes”. The success of “My Christmas Tree” helped him land a contract with producer “Johnny Rivers”, who recorded his second song “By the Time I Get to Phoenix”. Then, in 1967, Webb wrote five songs for a debut album for the group “The 5th Dimension”, for whom Rivers was producing. The album, titled “Up, Up, and Away”, was known to have ‘cleaned up’ the 1968 Grammy Awards. It not only won the highly coveted Song of the Year and Record of the Year Awards, it also won Best Pop Performance and Other Pop/Rock and Roll Performance Awards. Thus, Webb’s credibility as a songwriter skyrocketed. 1968 was a golden year for Webb, besides his Grammy Awards for “Up, Up and Away”, his songs for Glen Campbell, Johnny Maestro and The Brooklyn Bridge were also making headway in the Billboard Charts. It was reported that a million copies of Glen Campbell’s “Wichita Lineman” were sold. Webb also went on to win a Grammy for the song “Wichita Lineman”. Another artist known as “Richard Harris” recorded an album which only had Jimmy Webb songs, and a single from that album, “MacArthur Park” would go on to win a Grammy.
In the 1970’s, Webb started to experiment with his own music. He featured in his debut album “Words and Music” in 1970, and he went on to release five other albums in the same decade. His 1972 album, “Letters”, was thought of as his best solo album.
Webb also wrote music for television series and film scores. In 1982, he was credited with writing the score for “The Last Unicorn”, and in 1984, he was credited for writing the score for the famous television series “E/R”. He also produced a cantata titled “The Animal’s Christmas” in 1986.
Jimmy Webb currently resides on the North Shore of Long Island and spends much of his time on tour in the United States.