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|Birth name||Raymond Charles Campi|
|Born||April 20, 1934|
New York City, U.S.
|Died||March 11, 2021(aged 86)|
|Instrument(s)||Guitar, double bass|
Raymond Charles Campi (April 20, 1934 – March 11, 2021) was an American singer and musician, nicknamed "The King of Rockabilly". 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 born in New York City, in April 1934, and lived in Yonkers, New York, during his earliest years. After his family moved in 1944 to Austin, Texas, 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. 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 Ray Campi were a teacher for Johnny and Dorsey Burnette kids. 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, Ronny bought the double bass for him. But during the fifties, Ray Campi played on bass-guitar. After 4 days of practise, Ray recorded "Pan American Boogie" in Ronny's bedroom.
Soon after Ray 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 over two decades, and produced his own albums with artists such as Rosie Flores, Bobby 'Fats' Mizell and Ian Whitcomb. Campi performed on several solo albums by Kevin Fennell, his lead guitarist from 1977 to 2015. Campi also 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.
Ray Campi was a member of the Rockabilly Hall of Fame.
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