Happily, Eddie C. Campbell returned to Chicago after spending a decade entrenched in Europe. His shimmering West Side-styled guitar playing and unusually introspective songwriting have been a breath of fresh air on the Windy City circuit, reuniting the veteran bluesman with fans he left behind in 1984.
Campbell left rural Mississippi for the bright lights of Chicago at age ten, sneaking a peek at Muddy Waters at the 1125 Club soon after he arrived and jamming with his idol when he was only 12. He fell in with some West Side young bloods -- Luther Allison, Magic Sam -- and honed a guitar attack rooted deep in the ringing style. Campbell paid his sideman dues on the bandstand with everyone from Howlin' Wolf and Little Walter to Little Johnny Taylor and Jimmy Reed. Koko Taylor recommended Campbell to Willie Dixon, who hired him as a Chicago Blues All-Star in 1976.
Campbell cut his own debut album, the rousing King of the Jungle, in 1977 for the Steve Wisner's short-lived Mr. Blues logo (now available on Rooster Blues, it includes the guitarist's lighthearted Yuletide perennial "Santa's Been Messin' With the Kid"). But he split the country for calmer European climates, recording a nice 1984 album with a Dutch group, Let's Pick It!, that first came out on Black Magic and now adorns the Evidence catalog.
When Eddie C. Campbell finally returned stateside for the birth of his son, he made up for lost time by gigging steadily around Chicago and making a comeback album for Blind Pig, That's When I Know, that contained some very distinctive originals. Gonna Be Alright followed in 1999.