Sunday, May 11, 2014

Ray Campi - still rocking at 80

One of many highlights of my recent US trip was a visit to the Los Angeles home of the King of Texas Rockabilly Ray Campi. The visit was thanks to the Jive Aces, who extended their invitation to his house to John Howard, Paul Waring, Gordon Fleming and myself. Ray turned 80 a few days before our visit, but he is still rocking. Next month he appears at the Ink-N-Iron festival in Long Beach with a diverse line-up, including the Buzzcocks, Merle Haggard, the Damned, Wanda Jackson, the Skatalites and Si Cranstoun.
Ray was an excellent host at his modest bungalow, happily showing us his music and film posters and mementos of a career that actually  stretches back to the age of one, when he appeared on an advertising poster. Over the years he has recorded cassette interviews with dozens of Hollywood figures which really should be transcribed and published.  His musical career dates back to 1956 when he recorded Caterpillar for the TNT label, which was followed by 45s for Dot, Domino, D, Verve and Colpix, but his career really took off in the 1970s, when, after many years as a teacher, he was rediscovered by Ronnie Weisner , owner of Rollin' Rock Records. and recorded some great rockabilly tracks, including Rockin' At The Ritz and Tore Up. Over the last 20 years or so Ray has been a regular visitor to the UK and other European countries, playing his.exciting brand of rockabilly, and his white stand up bass has become a trademark.
In 1959 Ray recorded the first tributes to Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and the Big Bopper shortly after their deaths, backed by the Bopper's band, and he has recently re-recorded these tracks - Ballad of Donna and Peggy Sue and The Man I Met - with his long time piano player Rip Masters. He was good enough to give each of us a signed copy.
Here are photos of the reissued record.
And here's one of a 1986 EP featuring some of his best known Rollin' Rock tracks.
Finally, here's one of me with Ray at his LA home.
Nick Cobban.


At 8:20 pm , Anonymous John S said...

Sounds like you had a great day. Nice guy, old Ray is. Just love things like 'It Ain't Me' and 'How Low Do You Feel?' - both classic boppers in this household.


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