Blue Heart Records announces posthumous album from Willie J. Campbell
'Be Cool' is slated for worldwide release on August 18, 2023
By: Blue Heart Records
Willie J. Campbell attributed his love for music to his hometown of Detroit, Michigan, but it was his move to Huntington Beach, California, at a young age, that created further exposure to music and the idea of becoming a musician. He began his professional music career as bassist for the James Harman Band in the mid-1970s, a position he held for ten years before joining The Fabulous Thunderbirds. He spent six years playing beside his best friend and brother, Kid Ramos. "Willie J. was my friend; he was also my brother. The definition of a brother is 'one related to another by common ties or interests.' We definitely had that," says guitarist, Kid Ramos. "We played together in different bands for over 40 years starting with the James Harman Band, The Fabulous Thunderbirds, The Mannish Boys, and finally The Proven Ones. Our friendship ran deep and as strong as anyone could ever expect from another human being. We spoke the same language, we understood the same things about music, and it was a bond I'll never forget as it comes along once in a lifetime, if you are lucky. Willie was my brother."
After leaving The Fabulous Thunderbirds, he became a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, providing a professional support system to accompany his natural desire to support others in their personal struggles. Most recently, Campbell played with The Mannish Boys, The Blues Giants, and The Proven Ones. His more than five decade musical history includes touring, writing, and recording. He was fortunate to share the stage with a veritable Who's Who in Blues, Soul, Rock, Country, and Punk music. Campbell has been honored multiple times by the Blues Foundation with nominations for Instrumentalist - Bass (eight times), Band and Album of the year, in addition to winning a Blues Music Award for Record of the Year.
Diagnosed with ALS (Lou Gehrig's disease) in March 2022, Campbell's health steadily and then rapidly declined. Just eight weeks before his passing, with his health significantly compromised, he recorded his final album with all of his favorite people, his brothers and sisters. His music family surrounded him with an overwhelming amount of love that he deeply cherished, all taking an active part in making this record the best one yet. Produced by Willie J. Campbell, Kid Ramos, and Brian Templeton, contributing artists include Kim Wilson, Sugar Ray Rayford, David Hidalgo, Joe Louis Walker, Janiva Magness, Kid Ramos, Jimi Bott, Brian Templeton, Jimmie Wood, Jason Ricci, Anson Funderburgh, Mike Morgan, Shawn Pittman, Johnny Ramos, Condren Hampton, Mondo Cortez, Pat McDougall, and Brooks Milgate.
"Willie J. Campbell significantly impacted the lives of those around him, from fans to fellow musicians, clinical patients, and his loving family," says Sallie Bengtson, Blue Heart Records partner. "We are humbled by the opportunity to work closely with his family to share and support their vision for his final musical gift to us all."
"Over 35 years together, Willie was and always will be my partner in this life," says Lisa Campbell, wife of Willie J. Campbell. "We were a team facing all that life threw at us, we did it together. From raising the most beautiful and soulful daughters to riding the musical wave that gave our family experiences that we'll treasure forever. Willie's music is what brought him and I together and the making of this record is the last thing we shared. Music was always the foundation of our lives not only as a couple, but as a family and it brings me such peace knowing he's playing on the ultimate stage now."
Preorders for Be Cool will begin June 23 with the exclusive Bandcamp release of the first single, "This Time." "Stand By," the second single, will follow on July 21, 2023.
"Live fully in the moment. Enjoy everyone and everything that you can, while you can."
- Willie J. Campbell (June 19, 1957 - December 18, 2022)
For additional information, visit the Willie J. Campbell Facebook page.