Background and Education
From age 10, David Campbell learned violin, viola and piano, and early on became fascinated with orchestration and conducting. “I suddenly went from reading comic books to pouring over orchestral scores for long hours while conducting imaginary orchestras, my own version of air guitar.” He was a student of Scottish viola icon William Primrose, as well as Seattle maestro, Vilem Sokol.
In high school and college, he formed a string quartet with friends, including school chum David Harrington. “This was our ‘garage band’. We mostly shunned the classics and became somewhat infamous renegades who only performed 20th century and experimental music. Bartok, Schoenberg, Berg, Webern, Elliot Carter and local Seattle composers were our ‘stock-in trade’.”
A couple of years after the quartet disbanded, David Harrington founded the Kronos Quartet, the renowned ambassadors of contemporary chamber music. Campbell also was a performing member of a 16 player ensemble, The Contemporary Group, which performed a program of new experimental works every week for 2 seasons at the University of Washington.
After a few years at University of Washington and Manhattan School of Music, Campbell had a brief symphony career in New York City, playing viola for a couple of seasons in the American Symphony at Carnegie Hall under conducting legend Leopold Stokowski.
Early Studio Career
Finally giving in to a long curiosity about orchestration in rock, pop and jazz, David began playing on LA and New York studio sessions and in various rock and bluegrass bands. During the early ’70s, he played on many Motown classics including Marvin Gaye’s “Let’s Get it On”, as well as sessions with Aretha Franklin, Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, Carole King’s “Tapestry”, Jackson Browne, Arlo Guthrie, Barry White, Barbara Streisand and Bill Withers’ “Lean on Me”.
Arranging in the ’70s
During this period, he began arranging strings and horns, initially for Carole King, Rita Coolidge and Linda Ronstadt. Arranging soon became his main focus and there were many prominent albums and singles with David Campbell arrangements for the rest of the decade.
The Punk Rock and Early Hip-Hop Era
As a contrast to his heavy involvement in mainstream rock and pop for most of the ’70s, Campbell developed a passion for new bands during the developing punk rock years, spending late nights in LA and New York clubs seeing early performances by Devo, Talking Heads, Blondie and Cheap Trick. As these bands became nationally known, the LA punk scene heated up in underground clubs like The Masque and Al’s Bar; at the some of the first shows at these venues, David hooked up with bands that he went on to produce, The Quick and the Controllers, and then co-produced with filmmaker Rene Daalder numerous cuts for artist Tomata du Plenty of The Screamers, as well as Penelope Houston of the Avengers, featuring various guests such as Stan Ridgeway and Steven Hufsteter.
After witnessing the Sex Pistols’ historic last show, Campbell’s late night interests moved to early rap and breakdancing clubs, as hip hop began moving toward the forefront. As a composer, Campbell took on some film scores during this period and the influences of Grand Master Flash and Ice-T crept into the orchestral mix.
Film music was Campbell’s major interest in the mid ’80s, composing the scores for successful independent films such as Night of the Comet, as well as major studio releases like Tom Cruise’s follow up to Risky Business, All the Right Moves.
He also spent considerable time in songwriting, producing bands, and composing music for plays and commercials.
Return to Arranging Career
With the success and Grammy acclaim of Linda Ronstadt’s late ’80s return to pop Cry Like a Rainstorm, featuring several Campbell orchestral arrangements, David decided to once again specialize in arrangements for strings and horns. From that period to the present, he has built up an eclectic discography in modern rock, country, hip hop and R & B, mainstream pop, rock en espanol, Latin pop, Japanese pop, rock & jazz and other international markets.