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Remembering Lap-Steel Guitarist Darick Everett Campbell, His Music and Love Lives On

By Tyronda James
tyrondajames@minorityreporter.net

Lap steel guitarist of the Rochester-based group the Campbell Brothers, Darick Everett Campbell died back on Monday, May 11 at the age of 53 in Atlanta, Georgia but his legacy will live on for generations.

The son of Naomi Campbell and Bishop Charles Campbell, who is pastor of the House of God in Rochester, Campbell was born on November 12, 1966. He is a 1984 graduate of East High School.

Campbell’s daughter Alexis said her father was a family man and was definitely family-oriented. He is also survived by his granddaughter Marissa, parents, siblings; Chuck Campbell, Phillip Campbell and Danette Campbell-Bell. He will be remembered by additional family, friends, musicians, artists, and more. Alexis said it was an honor for the Minority Reporter and so many others to reach out to her and family regarding her dad.

“It means a lot. It makes me smile to see how influential he was and how many influential people in the community are reaching out to us. So it makes me excited, it really does,” Alexis said.

Campbell formed a band with family, The Campbell Brothers, consisting of his brothers; Chuck and Phillip and Phillip’s son Carlton. The band began in the late ’90s and played a significant role in mainstreaming the sound known as “sacred steel” music. Evolving in the 1930s, it’s a sound encompassing soul, country, blues and rock and took country music’s lap steel guitar, turned it into a gospel instrument, alternate to the organ.

They released their first album, Pass Me Not in 1997 and have released four additional albums. John Medeski of Medeski Martin & Wood produced the album, Can You Feel It? It gained national and international attention which led them to tour Jazz a Luzerne in Switzerland and the Berlin Jazz Festival.

Campbell began as a drummer and later began playing the lap-steel. He released the instructional video, DVD-Sacred Steel-Learn the Lap Steel Guitar of Darick Campbell in February 2005.

Most say that Campbell was an extremely humble man who played music with his heart.

Southern Soul songwriter, singer and guitarist David Michael Miller said he met Campbell six years recording his first kind of solo record through a Buffalo, NY music producer Jesse Ray Miller and Camp- bell’s nephew, Carlton.

Miller said that Campbell was also a very gracious man. He said as he was building his solo music career at the age of 44, Campbell would do shows and gigs with him. “And so I’ve got gigs where I can only pay him like 150 bucks, 200 bucks. He got way more money playing with the Camp- bell Brothers or probably anybody else. But, he would do it, because he believed in the music and our friendship and that just meant the world to me. He was very humble that way. Very, very gracious,” said Miller. “I’m just going to miss him. He was just a really good friend, it was so much fun to make music with him and just to be around him. The world’s a little dimmer without him.”

Campbell has influenced and performed with musicians from many facets of the world including the Allman Brothers, B.B. King, Dr. Bobby Jones, Mavis Staples, The Mighty Clouds of Joy and The Blind Boys of Alabama. He has been recognized as one of the great instrumentalists of his time. He has also appeared as a guest musician on projects with artists such as Rob Savoy and was once part of the Sacred Steel supergroup, the Slide Brothers.

He has garnered numerous accomplishments as a musician. In late 2014 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of a John Coltrane jazz classic, Campbell along with the family band composed a Sacred Steel interpretation of ‘A Love Supreme’ and performed in Damrosch Park at Lincoln Center, NYC.

They have performed on five continents including South America, Africa, Asia and Europe encompassing over 25 countries including Japan, France, England, Morocco and China. In 2019 the Campbell Family were inducted as a family to the Monroe Community College Alumni Hall of Fame. They were also featured in Gospel music exhibits in the Smithsonian Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington D.C.

“We’re very saddened to hear about the passing of Darick Campbell of The Campbell Brothers. Darick and the Campbell Brothers performed three times at #RIJF, in 2004, 2009 and just last year in 2019. The ensemble never failed to move the audience to their feet. Our thoughts are with his family and friends. We were happy to be able to share your music with so many,” was a message left in honor of Campbell on the Rochester International Jazz Festival Facebook page.

The Campbell Brothers most recent Rochester International Jazz Festival show was in 2019.

The Campbell Brothers were inducted into the 2018 Rochester Music Hall of Fame that included four other inductees: Percussionist and composer John Beck, legendary drummer Steve Gadd, bassist Tony Levin and Emmy nominated composer Ferdinand Jay Smith. On the Rochester Music Hall of Fame Facebook page, a heartfelt message reads “our deepest condolences with the family and friends of Darick Campbell, one of our esteemed inductees.”

WXXI-TV honored Campbell with the Campbell Brothers’ OnStage performance recorded in 2007 at WXXI’s studio. Hosted by Classical 91.5’s music director Julia Figueras, OnStage television and radio series highlights Rochester, NY musical talents. The OnStage: The Camp- bell Brothers aired Sunday, May 24 at 3 p.m. on WXXI. Additional information can be found at https://www.wxxi.org/high- lights/2020/05/onstage-campbell-brothers

The Experience Hendrix Tour celebrates the musical genius of Jimi Hendrix and unites a diverse, extraordinary musical talents. Campbell has played in 2010 and 2012 tours alongside all-star guitarists/ renowned musicians including Buddy Guy, Ernie Isley, Dweezil Zappa, Taj Mahal, Bootsy Collins and many more.

Jimi Hendrix tweeted, “The Experience Hendrix Tour family is deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Darick Campbell,” it can be read at https://bit.ly/3gn- 4Vak

Miller said Campbell inspired a song titled, Black Water Fishing that Miller said he will complete in honor of Campbell. “He was an inspiration and even to the point of inspiring a song and who knows maybe more in the future,” said Miller. Miller said Campbell was caring and self- less “I got a phone call from Darick out of the blue. And I’m like, I’m doing great. He goes, well, I just wanted to let you know that I had a heart attack. This was a second, but okay. And I’m in the hospital. I didn’t want you to worry about me. So I figured I’d give you a call, but, you know, I mean, that just kind of sums him up a little bit, you know what I mean? Here he is in the hospital, just recovered from a heart attack and he’s calling me to let me know, so I don’t worry, you know?”

Alexis said the biggest thing she wants people to remember is that her father was caring, he loved his family and cared for people in general. “He cared about people a lot. He always wanted the best for anybody that he came in contact with … and always had an encouraging word, when people needed it the most,” said Alexis.

“There’s a thinking side to what we do…
How am I treating my fellow man?
How am I living?
Am I doing the right things in life?”

-Darick Campbell

This poem and additional information about Darick Campbell and the Campbell Brothers, can be found at https://www. campbellbrothers.us/