Ray Campi

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Ray Campi
Birth nameRaymond Charles Campi
Born(1934-04-20)April 20, 1934
New York City, U.S.
DiedMarch 11, 2021(2021-03-11) (aged 86)
Occupation(s)Singer, musician
Instrument(s)Double bass, vocals

Raymond Charles Campi (April 20, 1934 – March 11, 2021) was an American singer and musician, nicknamed "The Rockabilly Rebel". He first recorded in the mid-1950s. Campi's trademark was his white double bass, which he often jumped on top of and "rode" while playing. He was a member of the Rockabilly Hall of Fame.


Campi was born in New York City in April 1934 and lived in Yonkers, New York during his earliest years. After his family moved to Austin, Texas in 1944, Campi began a lifetime of performing and recording music in numerous genres, including folk, country, and rock and roll as well as rockabilly. Early on he recorded on Domino Records.[2] In the 1950s, Campi recorded for several labels, including Dot Records, and recorded the first tribute record to the 1959 Buddy Holly plane crash, "The Ballad of Donna and Peggy Sue," backed by the Big Bopper's band. He also worked with a diverse range of singers, including Mae West (who recorded his song "Caterpillar") and Ian Whitcomb.

He rarely concentrated on his musical career exclusively, working a wide variety of jobs, notably twenty-five years, from 1967, spent as a junior high school teacher in Van Nuys, California. During these years, Campi was a teacher for Dorsey Burnette. He fiercely criticized the mainstream music industry, in particular its connections with drug culture.

His musical career took off in the early 1970s when he was rediscovered by Ronny Weiser, the owner of Rollin' Rock Records. Soon after, Weiser purchased a double bass for him. But during the 1950s, Campi had been accustomed to playing bass guitar. After four days of practice, Campi recorded "Pan American Boogie" in Weiser's bedroom.

Soon afterwards, Campi began touring Great Britain and Europe more often and regularly played at festivals there. He also recorded with German, Finnish, British and Dutch rockabilly bands for over two decades, and produced his own albums with artists such as Rosie Flores, Bobby 'Fats' Mizell, and Ian Whitcomb. Campi also performed on several solo albums by Kevin Fennell, his lead guitarist from 1977 to 2015. Additionally, he performed and recorded with his longtime musical associate Rip Masters.

Campi died in his sleep at home on March 11, 2021, at the age of 86; no cause of death was given.[3]

Early discography[edit]

Many of Ray Campi's earliest 1950s recordings were not issued until the 1980s and 1990s, mostly on European albums. But the following were issued on 45-rpm and, in some cases, 78-rpm. "Caterpillar" was considered his most popular record until his revival in the 1970s.

  • TNT 145 "Caterpillar"/"Play It Cool" 1956
  • Dot 15617 "It Ain't Me"/"Give That Love to Me" 1957
  • Domino 700 "My Screamin' Screamin' Mimi"/"Uh Huh Huh" 1958
  • Domino 701 "You Gambled"/"No Time" 1958
  • D-104 "Ballad of Donna and Peggy Sue"/"The Man I Met (Tribute to the Big Bopper)" 1959
  • Verve 10208 "Our Man in Havana"/"Reprieve of Love" 1960
  • Colpix 166 "Cry For Happy"/"Hear What I Wanna Hear" 1960


  1. ^ a b Whiteside, Jonny (April 14, 2012). "Rockabilly rebel Ray Campi still stirs the fire". LA Times. Retrieved August 30, 2021.
  2. ^ "RECORDING INDUSTRY". Handbook of Texas Online. The Texas State Historical Association. Retrieved June 28, 2009.
  3. ^ "RAY CAMPI". Electricearl.com. Retrieved March 12, 2021.

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