Country Music

Remembering Tompall Glaser: An Outlaw Just Beyond the Spotlight

Tompall Glaser, one of the original and most confrontational Nashville outlaws, passed Tuesday morning after a long illness, according to the singer's nephew. The flannel-throated Glaser, whose upraised middle finger to the Music Row establishment was even bigger than Willie's or Waylon's, was 79.

A singer, writer, producer, publisher and hellraiser of some repute, Glaser's biggest claim to fame was his inclusion on 1976's groundbreaking Wanted! The Outlaws alongside Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings and Jessi Colter, the first platinum-selling country album. But while Nelson and Jennings would go on to huge stardom, Wanted! would be the high point in Glaser's tumultuous and uneven career.

I was lucky enough to see a show at the Gregory Gymnasium on the University of Texas campus in May 1976, with Jennings as the headliner, his wife Jessi Colter, and Glaser as the couple's outlaw partner in crime. Jennings' band backed all three artists, and Glaser laid down blistering renditions of his hit "Put Another Log On the Fire" as well as deeper cuts like the ever-popular "T For Texas."

Glaser didn't steal the show, but he certainly held up his end.

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William Michael Smith