Nell in May 2015
|Born||Laura Elizabeth Campbell
24 May 1953
|Relatives||Cressida Campbell (sister)|
Nell was born in Sydney, to Ruth and Ross Campbell, a writer, who called her "Little Nell" (after a character in Charles Dickens' The Old Curiosity Shop) in his family life column in the Sydney Daily Telegraph. Campbell has three siblings: Sally, Patrick, and Cressida. Her older sister, Sally, was a property master, set designer and subsequently a fashion designer. Her younger sister, Cressida Campbell, an artist, and her older brother, Patrick, a solar engineer at the University of New South Wales. She was called Laura E. Campbell until around 17, when she went by the nickname "Sonny" (pronounced to rhyme with "Donny"), short for "Sonata". She began dancing at the age of 10, after being diagnosed with hepatitis A, to keep healthy. She attended high school at Abbotsleigh School for Girls in Sydney, supporting herself as a waitress.
Campbell decided to use the name "Little Nell" as a stage name after her arrival in Britain in the early 1970s with her family. She sold clothes at Kensington Market; her stall was next to Freddie Mercury's. She also worked as a busker and as a soda jerk in a café, where her tap dancing is often noted as the reason why she was cast as Columbia in the original production of The Rocky Horror Show following an impromptu audition. She reprised the role in The Rocky Horror Picture Show, released in 1975, and starred as Nurse Ansalong in the 1981 sequel, Shock Treatment.
After The Rocky Horror Picture Show, she signed a recording contract with A&M Records. Her debut single was "Stilettos and Lipstick" backed with "Do the Swim", released in 1975. She also created a disco version of the song "Fever" in 1976 which was again backed with "Do the Swim". The B-side of both of these releases became better known, perhaps helped by a performance on British television in which she accidentally (and repeatedly) exposed her breasts. While edited out of the original broadcast in 1975, the unedited version was shown worldwide on bloopers shows (beginning with the British show It'll be Alright on the Night in 1977). Following this notoriety, another effort was made to promote the recordings made in 1975 and 1976. In 1978, a "triple B-side" titled The Musical World of Little Nell (Aquatic Teenage Sex & Squalor) was released which featured both "Do the Swim" and "Stillettos and Lipstick" along with the track "Dance that Cocktail Latin Way" (also known as "Tropical Isle") which originally appeared as the B-side of her second single from 1976. Following some success with the EP, the other two tracks, singles "Fever" and "See You Round like a Record", were released as a single but that was to be her last release on A&M. A final single, "Beauty Queen" from the film The Alternative Miss World, was released on PRE Records in 1980.
Campbell has also appeared in several stage productions, including the Off-Broadway play You Should Be So Lucky and the Broadway musical Nine. She appeared as Sandra LeMon in the British TV series Rock Follies of '77.
In 1986 she opened the nightclub Nell's on W. 14th St in Manhattan with Keith McNally and Lynn Wagenknecht.
In 1995 she opened two restaurants in New York: The Kiosk (uptown) and E&O (downtown). Nell's was sold in 1998 to Noel Ashman and his business partner actor Chris Noth, right before she gave birth to daughter Matilda Violet in June 1998 to ex-boyfriend and business partner Eamonn Roche.
Campbell has written several magazine articles, including regular segments called "MamaTalks" and "FirstLook" in the now defunct Talk magazine, starting in the December 1999 issue. She returned to Australia after selling her Boerum Hill house in Brooklyn in December 2005, and is now living with her daughter.
The song "Laura" by Bat for Lashes is dedicated to Campbell, who is friends with Natasha Khan.
Singles / EPs
- "Stillettos and Lipstick" / "Do the Swim" (A&M, 1975)
- "See You Round like a Record" / "Dance that Cocktail Latin Way" (A&M, 1976)
- "Fever" / "Do the Swim" (A&M, 1976)
- The Musical World of Little Nell (Aquatic Teenage Sex & Squalor) (A&M, 1978)
- "Fever" / "See You Round like a Record" (reissue) (A&M, 1978)
- "Beauty Queen" (Pre Records, 1980)
- Tuff Little Surfer Boy (featured as "Roxanne" for the song by Truth & Beauty) (1974)
Soundtracks and Cast Recordings
- The Rocky Horror Show (Original London Cast) (1973)
- The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975)
- Shock Treatment (1981)
- 1974: Barry McKenzie Holds His Own as Nerida Brealey
- 1975: The Rocky Horror Picture Show as Columbia (A Groupie)
- 1975: Lisztomania as Olga
- 1975: Alfie Darling as a party guest
- 1976 Sebastiane as the Emperor's guest (uncredited)
- 1977: Jubilee as Crabs
- 1977: Journey Among Women as Meg
- 1978: Summer of Secrets as Kym
- 1981: Shock Treatment as Nurse Ansalong
- 1981: Pink Floyd The Wall as a groupie.
- 1984: Every Home Should Have One as Amy Benton
- 1984: The Killing Fields as Beth
- 1985: I Wanna Be a Beauty Queen as the opening act
- 1998: Great Expectations as Erica Thrall
- 1999: Joe Gould's Secret as Tamara
- 2000: The Intern as the host
- 2013: The Last Impresario as herself
- 1973: The Rocky Horror Show, at The Royal Court Theatre Upstairs
- 1975: And They Used to Star in Movies, at the Soho Theatre
- 1977: A Street Car Named Desire, at the Oxford Playhouse
- 1977: Censored Scenes From King Kong, at the Open Space Theatre
- 1978: Stoop, in London
- 1985: Women Behind Bars, at the Footbridge Theatre at Sydney University
- 1994: You Should Be So Lucky, off-Broadway
- 2003: NINE, on Broadway at the Eugene O'Neill Theatre
- 1977: Rock Follies of '77 as Sandra LeMon
- 1977: It'll be Alright on the Night as Herself
- 1979: Hazel as Pamela
- 1979: Shoestring as Joanna Lomas
- 1980: Dead Man's Kit as Zoe Summers
- 1983: Bergerac as Mrs. Moberley
- 1984: TV's Bloopers & Practical Jokes as Herself
- 1987: Saturday Night Live as Herself
- 1993: Tracy Takes On New York
- 1995: Rocky Horror Double Feature Video Show as Herself
- 2001: Visible Panty Lines as Herself
- 2010: Rake as Flick Moyers
- "Nell Campbell > Filmography". Allmovie. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved 14 February 2010.
- Spencer, Chris; Zbig Nowara; Paul McHenry (2002) . "LITTLE NELL". The Who's Who of Australian Rock. Noble Park, Vic.: Five Mile Press. ISBN 1-86503-891-1. Retrieved 14 February 2010. Note: [on-line] version established at White Room Electronic Publishing Pty Ltd in 2007 and was expanded from the 2002 edition.
- Maynard. "Rocky Horror Night with Little Nell". Planet Maynard (Podcast). Event occurs at 8:00. Retrieved 30 September 2014.
- "The Rocky Horror Picture Show" (doc). Australian Film Database. Murdoch University. Retrieved 13 February 2010.
- "London Weekend Show, closing credits, 1975 (Little Nell losing her top)".