Michael Campagna is a highly versatile artist whose accomplishments have ranged from playing with the industrial band Psychic TV to co-writing songs for well-known R&B singers like Chaka Khan, Jennifer Holiday, and Maxine Nightingale. Musicians and songwriters who know Campagna can attest to the fact that he has very eclectic tastes -- Campagna is the sort of person who would listen to Muddy Waters or Howlin' Wolf one minute and Nine Inch Nails the next, or play an Art Blakey & the Jazz Messengers reissue on his way home from a concert of traditional Indian music. Campagna was born in Buffalo on September 6, 1948, and he became involved in the local music scene during his teenage years (when he played with a Buffalo-based blues band called Jesse James & the Outlaws). After graduating from high school, Campagna play guitar with bluesman Elmo Witherspoon in the early ‘70s and attended the University of Buffalo (where one of his roommates was saxophonist Jay Beckenstein, who went on to found the popular fusion/crossover jazz group Spyro Gyra in 1975). Buffalo was where Campagna met his ex-wife Deborah Ash, a singer/songwriter who has focused on R&B and blues. Campagna and Ash became a songwriting team, and in 1975, they moved to Los Angeles together. Two of the songs that Campagna and Ash wrote after heading west were recorded by Chaka Khan in early ‘80s ("Father He Said" and "Nothing's Gonna Take You Away"), and in 1979, their song "Shaking Me Up" was recorded by British soul-disco singer Maxine Nightingale (who is best remembered for her 1975 hit "Right Back Where We Started From"). Other songs that Campagna co-wrote have included "It Will Haunt Me" (which Jennifer Holiday recorded in 1991) and "Global Village," which fusion/pop-jazz keyboardist Jeremy Wall (formerly of Spyro Gyra) recorded as an instrumental. It was around 1994 that Campagna joined forces with British singer Genesis P-Orridge, who had founded the influential industrial group Psychic TV in London in 1979 and was a member of Throbbing Gristle (another important industrial outfit) before that. In addition to playing guitar with a mid-‘90s version of Psychic TV, Campagna recorded a few albums with a mid-‘90s project that was billed as Genesis P-Orridge & Splinter Test. Since 1998, Campagna has been leading an L.A.-based funk-rock band called the Average Johnsons, whose other members have included Mauex Luv on organ and vocals, Chet West on bass and Brian Head on drums. In addition to being the group's leader and guitarist, Campagna writes all of their material. In 2000, Campagna served as a musical consultant on a live recording by the late reggae star Peter Tosh; Live at the One Love Peace Concert, which was released on the Jad label, focuses on an historic concert that was held in Kingston, Jamaica in 1978.
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