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Ray Campi

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Biography

Rockabilly wildman Ray Campi recorded several classic singles during the music's prime era, and later staged a comeback that earned him a substantial cult audience over the '70s and '80s. Campi was born in New York in 1934 and moved with his family to Austin, TX, at age ten. He started listening to country music, learned the guitar, and formed his first band in high school, which played on local radio stations. Campi made his first recordings in 1951, but it wasn't until 1956, when he cut the single "Caterpillar" b/w "Play It Cool" for the small TNT label, that any of them were released. He went on to record for Domino ("Screamin' Mimi") and Dot ("The Ballad of Donna & Peggy Sue"), and moved to Los Angeles in 1959, where he signed with Colpix and recorded "Hear What I Wanna Hear." During the early '60s, Campi lived in New York and spent two and a half years as a staff writer at Aaron Schroeder's publishing firm, but was never allowed to record any of the songs he'd written. He returned to Austin in 1967 and recorded "Civil Disobedience" for the Sonobeat label, but nothing came of it, and he settled in Los Angeles and became a junior-high school teacher. Around 1973, Campi hooked up with Ronny Weiser's revivalist Rollin' Rock label and started making new recordings in the classic, high-energy rockabilly style. A steady stream of albums followed into the '80s, which also brought a couple of sets for Rounder, 1980's Rockin' at the Ritz and 1986's Gone, Gone, Gone!. Campi continued to record into the new millennium, releasing occasional albums on his own label.

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