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November 4, 1979 |
Granby, Connecticut, U.S.
|Occupation||Television personality, musician, songwriter, filmmaker|
Jesse Camp (born November 4, 1979) is the winner of the first Wanna Be a VJ contest on MTV beating over 5000 other contestants including Dave Holmes for a VJ job on the network. During his year and a half on MTV, Camp was a cohost of music video show Total Request Live (TRL), and also hosted the summer series "Lunch With Jesse" as well as "MTV Rocks Off". Although the original contest rules were to let the winner be a VJ for a period of two weeks, Camp became so popular on the channel that the network immediately extended his contract for a full year. Jesse was voted one of VH1's Twenty Greatest MTV Moments in 2010.
Camp was born in Granby, CT. His father was a college professor and his mother was an elementary school principal. Camp attended public school in Granby through the eighth grade. For high school, Camp received a scholarship to Loomis Chaffee, a New England boarding school, graduating in 1997. Also in 1997, Camp received a scholarship to the drama department of UCLA but never attended.
Camp entered MTV's first Wanna Be a VJ contest in 1998. Portraying himself as homeless and projecting the image of a "street kid", controversy arose when it was discovered that he had been raised and attended private school in Connecticut. Nonetheless, Camp beat fellow contestant Dave Holmes for a VJ job on the popular music video show Total Request Live, known as TRL. Camp held his position on TRL with Carson Daly as the main host for over a year. Jesse Camp also hosted two additional programs of his own for daytime MTV audiences. Camp convinced MTV executives to let him book acts such as Ratt, Sebastian Bach and Dee Snider as guests on his summer series "Lunch with Jesse" at a time when these artists were years past being in rotation on the channel. For over a year, Jesse hosted the contemporary rock program "MTV Rocks Off" interviewing artists such as Joey Ramone, Henry Rollins, Korn, Limp Bizkit, Sugar Ray, Garbage, Peter Steele, Silverchair and Metallica.
Following his departure from TRL, Camp parlayed his MTV fame into a rock career with his 1999 debut album Jesse & the 8th Street Kidz on the Hollywood Records label. The album was produced by Rob Cavallo (Green Day, Kid Rock) and Julian Raymond (Cheap Trick, Glen Campbell), and specialized in the 1980s style glam metal that fell out of fashion almost a decade before the album's release. Guest stars on the album included Stevie Nicks duetting with Camp on ballad "My Little Saviour", Rick Nielsen, Steve Hunter and Greg Bisonette. Camp cowrote the album with Alex Kane (Life, Sex and Death, Antiproduct), Bam Bam and Jo Almeida (Dogs D'Amour) and Share Pedersen (Vixen, Bubble). A video for the first single "See You Around" included cameos from Reverend Run and Marky Ramone. Critical reviews were mixed. Rob Sheffield gave the album a review (3.5 stars) in Rolling Stone, while Stephen Thomas Erlewine of Allmusic gave the album 1 star out of a possible 5, writing: "At times, the music is catchy, but most of the time it's simply irritating, since Camp's singing is every bit as grating as his persona." In a retrospective review for The A.V. Club, Nathan Rabin noted that the album was well-produced and featured solid performances by the session musicians, but that the choice to obscure Camp's vocals on most songs betrays his limited musical ability, particularly on the duet with the far more talented Stevie Nicks.
Jesse's touring band included Keith Robert, Sammy Yaffa (Hanoi Rocks), Todd Youth (D Generation, Chelsea Smiles) and Joe Rizzo (Jayne County). Tommy James (Sex Gang Children) and Tommy Furar (Loud Lucy) replaced Youth and Yaffa in a later incarnation of the band that supported Alice Cooper on his fall tour of 1999.
Camp appeared in an impromptu cameo on the documentary titled Power & Control LSD in The Sixties, by Aron Ranen. Camp has acted in such films as Crossroads with Britney Spears and a starring role in Skinwalker (2004). In 2008, Camp was captured by cameras at the final MTV TRL party purchasing two "eight balls" by TMZ camera men/women. During the purchase, Camp stated he would sell both kidneys and a leg for two eight balls of cocaine. It was later revealed that Camp was just having fun for the TMZ cameras and making light of his bad reputation. Camp has been sober for several years and continues to help other addicts through his work with Musicares. Camp has made several short films and documentary pieces with his sister, photographer Marisha Camp.
Jesse Camp also has joined Chicago based band Green Denim playing guitar and vocals and continues recording and writing music with Green Denim. In 2015 Green Denim has just released their debut album produced by Chip Z' Nuff of Enuff Z' Nuff and features 4 new songs written by Jesse Camp. Camp plans to tour with Green Denim and release a music video.