Campbell, born outside of Little Rock, Ark, in 193, picked up guitar at age 4 and was performing on radio by age 6. He really cut his teeth in Los Angeles as a session musician and , what I find fascinating, he never learned to read music. Despite this, his natural ability led him to become a member of “The Wrecking Crew” and by his count, appear on 586 recordings in 1963 alone. His session work with the Beach Boys landed him a spot with the band when Brian Wilson stepped back from touring.
And finally, after putting out albums under his own name in the early 60’s, found success in 1967 with his version of “Gentle On My Mind”. Of course bigger hits followed including a massively successful run of Jim Webb tunes which led to massive fame, tv shows, movies, record sales, marriages, divorces, alcoholism, drug addiction, recovery, and redemption. You know, the whole cycle.
How much appeal did Campbell have? Well reading outside the attached articles, two things. First, the massive amount of his records I see when I shop for used records. This means that he sold a lot of albums. Second, the high number of appearances on country compilation albums, this being one of them (personally, I am not a great fan of country-pop, hence I do not have any of his albums.). I had about 10 compilations to choose from with Campbell on them.
This collection, released by Capitol Records in 1969, features Campbell along with Bobbie Gentry, Al Martino, The Letterman, and Tennessee Ernie Ford. Th e album features two songs from Campbell as well as one duet with Gentry from the album I featured on thus blog two years ago (for the record, it is “Little Green Apples” which I feel ranks among the worst songs ever written). As further proof as Campbell’s legacy, the album features two songs of Webb’s, popularized by Campbell, “By the Time I get to Phoenix” and “Wichita Lineman”. This was $1. I probably bought it for Gentry’s cover of “Son of a Preacherman”, which is somewhat decent. Anyway, from this album, here is Campbell with Rod McKuen’s “The World I Used To Know”.
Rest In Peace Mr Campbell.