Glenn Sutton ~ Nashville Renaissance Man
Known as the architect of the Countrypolitan sound, Glenn Sutton was the spark behind the Lynn Anderson phenomenon. Songwriter, producer, actor, and a creative force far ahead of his time, he was one of Nashville's most beloved characters, and one of its most prolific artists.
Born Royce Glenn Sutton in Hodge, Louisiana in September of 1937, Sutton’s love of country music bloomed early in his life, nurtured under the faint light of the radio dial tuned every Saturday night to WSM and The Grand Ol’ Opry.
“I think he knew from the earliest years of his boyhood that he wanted to play music”, daughter Lisa Sutton recalled. “One if my favorite pictures of him is an old black and white shot of him and his first guitar—he’d used some old painter’s tape to ‘write’ his name on it. He was years from setting foot in Nashville, but in Daddy’s mind, he was already a star…”
That move to Music City eventually came years later, after a series of detours through Henderson, Texas, The U.S. Air Force, Jackson Mississippi, and countless honky-tonks and beer joints along the way, where he honed not only his talent as a musician, but his growing love and passion for songwriting. A natural born story-teller, Sutton’s gift for lyrics and melody filled the tank in his Bel-Air when he finally made the move to Nashville in 1964, signing on as a staff writer for the Music Row powerhouse publishing house, Al Gallico Music.
While ‘overnight success’ might be a bit of a stretch, Sutton’s rise on the Row was close. Teaming with CBS head and production enfant terrible, Billy Sherrill, writer and producer George Richey, and 16th Avenue heavyweight, Norro Wilson, Sutton would go on to write or co-write many of country music’s biggest hits for its most successful artists; the first, co-written with Sherrill less than two years after his arrival in town. Intended originally for Charlie Walker, but landing on a David Houston session, "Almost Persuaded," was not only a number one hit, it also earned Sutton and Sherrill the Grammy for Best Country Song as well as the BMI Country Song of the Year.
Driven by an unquenchable passion to create, Sutton was a man constantly in motion; an artist far ahead of his time, and certainly far beyond the confines of 16th and 17th Avenues in Nashville, Tennessee. In the early 1970’s, he experimented with making what may the first music videos ever shot in country music, dressing the sets, acting, directing, shooting and starring in each. Like many of the great actors of our time, he created theatrical alter-egos that he immersed himself in; characters that became as well-known up and down Music Row as he himself was. The legendary Blue Water Dave: The World’s Oldest Entertainer. Angel Man; a caped and masked crusader in black tights righting lyrical wrongs…and scores more.
But the role that he would become best-known for, the role that would change his life forever was a role he largely played behind the scenes. A role he took on in February of 1968 when he asked a young Lynn Anderson to marry him.
What followed was one of Nashville’s most storied, volatile and successful marriages. A nine-year long musical partnership guided by Sutton that took that young, on-the-edge-of-a-breakout singer to the very top of the international stage and made her one of the most successful female country singers of all time. A partnership that saw the release of one of popular music’s biggest hits with “(I Beg Your Pardon) I Never Promised You A Rose Garden”, and a string of Number One albums and singles that made Glenn Sutton and Lynn Anderson one of the most talked-about, hottest couples in show business. Their rise to the top was nothing short of meteoric.
Meteors, however, burn their hottest because of the enormous pressure within their cores. And while success upon success seemed to fall in their laps by the day, the pressures of fame eventually exhausted them, and what had once been a glimmering, brilliant marriage, streaking across the skies like a comet, Glenn Sutton and Lynn Anderson simply burned out, ending their partnership in 1977.
In the years that followed, Sutton’s life and career seemed to dial back gradually, though never dimming his brilliance. He remained one of Country Music’s most notable personalities and beloved artists until his passing—far too early--on April 17th, 2007 at the age of sixty-nine.