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Interview: Don Campbell

Interview: Don Campbell

Interview: Don Campbell

By on - Photos by Veronique Skelsey - 1 comment

"My father passed away last year... I took time out of the scene for personal reasons and I've decided to come back now"


The fourth in United Reggae's series of on-the-spot interviews (we've already published The Skints, Coxsone & Saxon sound systems and Dennis Alcapone & Winston Reedy) is a rare chat with English lovers rock legend Don Campbell. Don first shot to prominence in 1993 with his hit See It In Your Eyes before partnering up with General Saint (of Clint Eastwood and... fame). Alongside Peter Hunnigale, Silvia Tella and Lloyd Brown, the milk and honey voiced Mr Campbell is one of romantic reggae's second generation stars. However, the man from UK reggae's heartland North West London has been quiet on the release front of late. In this chat with Angus Taylor - in between singing and signing backstage for his adoring fans after performing at One Love for the second year running - we find out why...

Don Campbell

Tell me how it feels to be back here at One Love.

It's a pleasure, you know? I just performed a while ago and to see the people enjoying coming to this event One Love festival, it's a good feeling because we all want peace, we all want One Love. These are the things that draw people together, of all different nationalities.

You're obviously a very good judge of a crowd and what to sing. Both times you've been here you've shared a lot of Bob with everyone.

Realistically in the set-list I had about one Bob Marley song! But I thought I'd add a few more because it's popular, the people can sing along with you and everything, and at the same time you can give a good show. That's why I kind of mix my stuff and mix Bob as well.

We all want peace, we all want One Love. These are the things that draw people together, of all different nationalities

You dedicated your song See It In Your Eyes to a couple, David and Michelle, whose wedding is taking place at the festival site this weekend - which was nice.

Yes, the wedding couple. Well they came to me and said to me they're getting married. They said to me if I go out there and I do See It In Your Eyes can I dedicate it to them, which is what I did. They're really good fans of mine, I appreciate that they enjoy my music. As I came off stage there were a couple of other people; this guy whose father passed away in the last year, he wanted me to sing Dance With My Father. If I'd known I would have done it for him a cappella, but he did a little thing on his phone, recorded it on his phone live, he dedicated it to his mum and I sang Dance With My Father.

Your were also singing Happy Birthday to a girl backstage just then and she was overcome.

Yeah, yeah. She was full of tears, very full of tears. Tears of joy, I hope! (laughs)

What are you doing release-wise coming up now?

Don CampbellThere isn't anything due for release because I'm in the studio working on new stuff now. I took time out. My father only passed away last year and the year before that I took time out of the scene for personal reasons and I've decided to come back now. I'm working on stuff now, whether it's going to be out this year, I'm not sure. Definitely next year.

How do you feel about 50 years of Jamaican independence?

I feel very strongly about it. As you know it's 50 years of independence and I think the island is stronger within itself. Just to see everyone come together and celebrate it, as well as Bolt winning the Olympics, it's really, really good. I think it's all amazing.

There are so many big landmarks this year. Is there ever going to be a summer like this again?

Ahh, I don't know! This is a once in a lifetime thing really, isn't it? The Olympics mainly, me and my other half went to watch some basketball with my daughter. It's just a joy, and for the kids it's good. It's a once in a lifetime thing, maybe in the next 20 years, I don't know when the next one is but... just this one has gone really brilliantly. It's amazing to see all the athletes that came over and do so well, you know?

Final question; as such an established figure in Lovers Rock, who did you grow up listening to?

I tell you what it is, I grew up on Gregory, I grew up on Bob, I grew up on Alton, I grew up on Linval Thompson, I grew up on a lot of different artists. And not only that but I got the opportunity to actually back them because I was in a band called Undivided Roots, plus Ruff Cutt, so we got to back most of those artists, Linval Thompson, all of them. In the band Undivided Roots I was the lead vocalist, and after leaving the band I pursued a solo career. This was around 1980. But the main artists I would say for me really is Bob, Freddie McGregor, a few other strong artists as well, that inspired me when I was at school and growing up.

I grew up on Gregory, I grew up on Bob, I grew up on Alton, I grew up on Linval Thompson

You hail from northwest London. Reggae HQ.

Yes, that's right. I'm coming from the roots, man, I'm coming from the roots! It's a pleasure being here, as I said, and I really appreciate that the people enjoy themselves and we, the artists, we enjoy ourselves as well. It's all good!

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Read comments (1)

Posted by Sylvia Tella on 01.22.2013
I enjoyed reading the write up on Don Cambell and his brother Harmony, Lloyd brown, Winston Reedy and Alcapone really intresting keep playing the tunes we like. blessed 2013

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