in Duncan, Mississippi in 1939, guitarist Eddie C. Campbell was
raised in Chicago, where he played with nearly every seminal
figure who defined Chicago's West Side sound -- his friend Magic
Sam, Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf, Willie Dixon, and
Walter, among others. Although Campbell's music is strongly
reminiscent of that classic West Side blues sound, he would
prefer to call it "black culture" music.
His parents, sharecroppers, moved to the Windy City when
Eddie C. was six years old. His mother helped him buy his first
guitar at age eight. She would take him to the 1125 Club on
Madison Street, where he met the legendary Muddy Waters, who
told Eddie C. he could sit in if he learned to play. After
relentless study, Eddie C. learned "Still A Fool", and Muddy
allowed him to sit in with the band. Eddie C. Campbell was
twelve years old!
In the mid-50's, when Eddie C. was still in his teens, he was
jamming around on the blues scene with Luther Allison and Willie
James Lyons, Big Monroe, drummer Willie Buckner, and harp player
Pee Wee Madison.
The versatile performer was one of the most flamboyant and
popular musicians on the West Side scene, riding around on a
purple motorcycle, sporting a red Jazzmaster guitar, learning
karate and winning sixteen knockouts as an amateur boxer. By the
late 50's, Campbell's band was backing up
Fulson, Tyrone Davis, and Little Johnny Taylor, and Eddie C. was
performing with Little Walter, Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf, Otis
Rush, and Mighty Joe Young. It was also during this period that
he became close friends and running buddies with
Magic Sam, who
lived two doors down and was to prove influential on Campbell's
In 1963 Eddie C. became the band director for
Jimmy Reed, a
gig he held periodically until Reed's death in 1976. Shortly
thereafter, Campbell began to work with Koko Taylor, who
recommended him to Willie Dixon. Eddie C. played in Willie
Dixon's Chicago Blues All-Stars for the next four years.
In 1977, while with Dixon's band, he recorded King
of the Jungle, which was released on the Mr. Blues
label and reissued on Rooster Blues in 1985. In 1979 he toured
Europe for the first time with the American Blues Legends Tour.
He moved to Europe in 1984, working at first in England, then
moving to Holland, and finally to Germany. While he was in
Amsterdam, Eddie C. recorded an album entitled Let's
Pick It! for
the Black Magic label (reissued on Evidence in 1993). While in
Europe he also toured in a German stage adaptation of William
Faulkner'sRequiem For A Nun.
Campbell returned to Chicago in December 1992 so that his son
could be born in the United States. He soon resumed work on his
latest album, That's
When I Know, released on Blind Pig in October 1994. As
Dick Shurman says in the liner notes, "His life in England,
Holland, and Germany brought some peace with himself and
deepened his sense of self as a bluesman and as the product and
expression of Black culture. His chops and creativity were
fueled by a greater sense of context and renewed personal
stability." Eddie C. completed the album, which is composed
entirely of sparkling originals.
Campbell specializes in jaunty, irresistibly danceable
rhythms overlaid with lithe guitar lines, often placed so
tightly in the pocket of the beat that his lead guitar almost
doubles as a rhythm instrument. Add his unique songwriting
abilities and compelling vocals, and you've got That's
When I Know, a top-notch blues album that gives notice
that Eddie C. Campbell is "an American resource to treasure."