The Return of Jimmy Campbell

By Bill Harry  

The original vinyl coverA Jimmy Campbell renaissance is due to Mark A. Johnston, a retired Ford Motor Company marketing executive who is a music historian, freelance music journalist and guitarist.

Mark began working with Billy Kinsley to get the long lost 1970 ‘Rockin’ Horse’ classic ‘Yes It Is’ released on CD for the very first time.

He told me, “The album is as magical as anything produced by the Beatles or Badfinger circa 1969/70. The musical style is too many times dismissed as Beatles derivate, but that is so unfair. Through Billy and Roger Scott Craig, I have come to learn a lot about Jimmy. Billy assures me that my interest in Jimmy's work and getting the Rockin' Horse album re-released is helping to motivate Jimmy. I understand, through my discussions with Billy, that Jimmy has had a rough go of it over the past few years. I think this is a criminal waste of talent and it is terribly sad that Jimmy's voice has been lost thus far.

“I am working at no profit to act as the major catalyst to get the Rockin' Horse album released for the first time on CD. Billy and Jimmy have an acetate, but they do not know who owns the masters. I have written to Hal Carter for his information on the master tapes, but I fear that Universal now owns them (they probably have no clue).”

Hal Carter originally recorded the album and I still had the original album along with a second album by Jimmy, ‘Son of Anastasia’. Hal had lost his master tapes so he dropped round to see me and I lent him my copy of the album.

Mark also e-mailed me about some of Jimmy’s other works: 

Jimmy Campbell“KEEP ME WARM ('TIL THE SUN SHINES) (Jimmy Campbell) – THE SWINGING BLUE JEANS (2.28) In 1966 the Swinging Blue Jeans showed they were capable of keeping up with the Beatles via this piece of psychedelic. The excellent song was written by Jimmy Campbell of the Kirkbys and was produced by Paddy Chambers of the Escorts and Paddy, Klaus and Gibson. EMI refused to sanction its release because it wasn't made by one of their staff producers. Ironically, Jimmy didn't know that the Blue Jeans had recorded his song until I told him a couple of years ago.

”MICHAELANGELO (Jimmy Campbell) - THE KIRKBYS (2.21) The Kirkbys try a few psychedelic tricks on "Michaelangelo" and the introduction of the trumpet can only mean that someone has been listening to "Penny Lane". Good song, and Jimmy Campbell recorded a song about Van Gogh on his album.

”GETTIN' SENTIMENTAL OVER YOU (Jimmy Campbell) - BILLY FURY (2.30) Another Jimmy Campbell song, this time a lilting country song that sounds like a standard. Fury gives a fine performance and I like the honky tonk piano.

”GREEN EYED AMERICAN ACTRESS (Jimmy Campbell) - BILLY FURY (2.29) Fury recorded several of Jimmy Campbell's songs and this excellent ballad should have been released.

”THAT'S RIGHT, THAT'S ME (Jimmy Campbell) - BILLY FURY (3.24) Opening lines: "Judas Iscariot loaned me his chariot / Mad Jack gave me a loan" - and gets weirder. Intriguing song about losing your money at cards (I think).

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