THE IAN CAMPBELL STORY
|Ian Campbell was born
in Fulham, South West London, in 1950 and took up
playing the guitar at the age of fifteen. By 1969 Ian had become an accomplished blues guitarist with a local
Bracknell area band called Levee Camp Moan. During 1969-1970 the
band enjoyed some fame appearing at iconic clubs like Klooks Kleek and
The Marquee. By the time they disbanded in 1970 they left one
vinyl album titled (inventively) "Levee Camp Moan; and some tapes of
live performances at free concerts held at Peacock farm. All
this music is now available on CD [Audio Archives AACD045] at a
reasonable price - however if you
are lucky enough to own a good condition vinyl pressing of "Levee Camp
Moan" you may be interested to learn that they are allegedly changing hands at over
Ian's style had two very special characteristics, one was the speed at which he could fret a guitar, his friends dubbed him "Fast Fret Campbell" ; and the other was his ability to convey his soul into the music he plays. You don't just "hear" Ian Campbell, you "feel" him.
After Levee Camp Moan had disbanded Ian studied at University (History and Education) supporting himself by being a session player, which included some TV adverts and the TV theme for a children's TV programme called "Michaela!"
In 1974 Ian joined The Nashville Teens for the first time, but stayed only briefly and became a full time teacher 1977-1995. This career didn't stop Ian performing in his spare time - and he played with some well known acts including Paul Kings Skeleton Crew , Mungo Jerry , Donovan Geno Washington and Arthur Brown's World of Kingdom Come (successors to "The Crazy World"). In 1978 he formed his own band - The Ian Campbell Band - with Simon Spratley (Nashville Teens) and Keith Allen (Marty Wilde's Wildcats). They soon extended to incorporate George Leslie Calvert (Alexis Korner, Jona Lewie and Mungo Jerry) on bass guitar and the late Keith Atkinson on drums. Simon Baker replaced Keith on drums in 1981.
In 1984 Pete Agate, the lead guitarist
with The Nashville Teens left at very short notice, and Ian got the call
to ride to the rescue. He drove down to Swansea where the band were
playing and joined them on stage with no real idea of what tunes or
arrangements he was expected to play! But he obviously did Ok because
they kept him. In fact it was a time of major change for The Teens
because about the same time they got a new keyboard player and a
new bass guitarist - Simon Spratley and Colin Pattenden.
The first big gig for this new Nashville Teens line up was the 1984 Heroes & Villains Concert, which was convened at he Rainbow by the late Dave Dee (of DD, Dozy Beaky Mick & Tich fame) . This was a charity fund-raising gig for the NORDOFF ROBBINS charity. This charity provides and encourages creative music therapy. Originally aimed at children with learning disabilities, it is now recognised as a powerful therapy for people with all sorts of disabilities.
Ian played with the Nashville Teens until
his son was born in 1988, but he left a lasting legacy because many of
the arrangements played by the current line-up in The Nashville Teens
were established by Ian and Simon Spratley. As a responsible
father from 1988 Ian was employed by Hampshire County Council as a
Guitar and Music teacher specialising in Creative Composition, a role he
remained in until 31st October 2009. Ian didn't stop playing the
guitar publicly, he continued with his own band, The Ian Campbell Blues
Band, and maintained his role as lead guitarist with The King Earl Boogie
|On the evening of 31st October 2009; Halloween, The
King Earl Boogie Band were booked to play the Sports & Social Club at
Pyrford, near Woking. It is a local gig for most of the band, just
Ian Campbell and John Coghlan (drummer, ex Status Quo) who had to travel
The backline was set up, sound checked and it was getting late and Ian
still hadn't arrived. The band had to play as a quartet, luckily
Dave Peabody, the vocalist, is a handy guitarist and could cover.
None of us there that night guessed what had happened.
Ian had been travelling to the gig when a young man driving far too fast in the opposite direction lost control, crossed to the wrong side of the road, and hit Ian's car head on. The fire brigade had to cut Ian free, and he was rushed to hospital with his leg broken in three places and a ruptured mesenteric artery which was causing severe internal bleeding.
Ian died several times that night
He lost so much blood that he suffered a series of strokes - which have left him paralysed on the left side of his body and with no peripheral vision to the left. With only one working hand he could no longer fret a guitar, and he is now registered blind. Luckily Ian's partner, Julianne, is a trained nurse and Ian has a tenacious personality. He tells me that he has been to some very dark places while he contemplated never being able to play the guitar again. One very small piece of luck is that one of the firemen who rescued Ian recognised him, and rescued Ian's green Fender Telecaster guitar from the boot of the wrecked cat; Ian's son James now plays it.
After what must have seemed like years of darkness, Ian found himself
a client of the NORDOFF ROBBINS charity. Not raising money for
them this time, but being cajoled and encouraged back into recognising
that he still has extraordinary musical abilities.
Not "Fast Fret
Campbell" any more, but Ian with his musical knowledge and technical
skills - and a lot of support from Julianne and from NORDOFF ROBBINS
- has learned how to play guitar again by using just one hand with open
chords. Once he had mastered the technique he quickly built
himself an escape route from those dark places. He has a musical
|NOW! the reincarnation -
Three years after almost losing everything, Ian undertook his first
public performance as a one-handed blues guitarist, supporting The King
Earl Boogie Band at a school charity concert in Weybridge. His
technique improved with practice - he can bend notes, play riffs and
generally tackle anything which doesn't require a fast key change -
although even that isn't impossible, he has a guitar which retunes
itself at the touch of a foot pedal! Most importantly Ian
still has his soul! What he plays still oozes emotion.
During the winter of 2012/2013 Ian perfected his technique, added to his
repertoire and undertook several public outings as guest of Keith
Allen's and Jason Manners' bands.
Early in 2013, Along with Garry Barlow (Take That), Ian was one of several guest speakers at a Nordoff Robbins fund raising dinner in London. He was also interviewed by The Independent newspaper, who published an article in August 2013. He has also undertaken an inspiring interview with Corinne Bailey Rae on the subject of the healing power of music - available on the "Audioboom" website - there is a link on this sites cover page.
Meanwhile Ian has been rehearsing. His main venture, christened The Ian Campbell Single Handed Blues Band made it's first proper performance to friends at his partner Julianne's birthday party. The band comprises Ian Campbell on lead guitar; Keith Allen on rhythm guitar, harmonica and vocals; Simon Baker on drums; George Leslie Calvert on bass guitar, and Simon Spratley back on keyboards. The whole band is a reincarnation!
In parallel with this band promotion, Ian is undertaking another venture - the formation of a duo with Ray Phillips - vocalist from the Nashville Teens. Early days yet, but the two have had some rehearsals, and despite not having played together for twenty five years, they were harmonious from the very first note when they got into the rehearsal studio. I watched and listened as they went straight into Hoochie Coochie Man - and it was as if they had been playing it for years!
Music is a channel for emotion, and his escape from being just another stroke victim is a testament to the power of the blues. In re-learning the instrument, Ian has to some extent rediscovered the kicks he had as a teenager when he was first learning the instrument. He plays with authority and his spirit, soul and innermost feelings still power his music. Ian has got reincarnation - but with prior knowledge so he's straight to the top, straight away!
last validated and updated 01/01/2018