Suzy Starlite comes home to Ross and Linton blues - an update from Simon Campbell

Graham Munn of Slap Magazine interviews Suzy Starlite and Simon Campbell of the Starlite Campbell Band.

Suzy, half of the Starlite Campbell partnership was raised in Ross, just a few miles down the M50 from Linton, the full Starlite Campbell Band, opened the stage as Saturday unfolded at this brilliant festival.

Playing French Horn at school, and writing her own material for guitar, at 16, she knew she wanted to follow her artistic instincts. It was a calling, that had to be answered, which took Suzy seeking a coarse in performance media, leaving her friends and family in Ross, and relocating in Salford. Naturally drawn to music, she graduated, into a folk/rock band, Megiddo, the dream of music, travel and performance, driving her forward.

Suzy based herself in the Isle Of Man, where Simon Campbell came into the picture as producer and guitar player, proclaiming a band needed to be formed, and ‘just get out there and play’. Simon pulled a band together, and ‘Starlite’ was formed. Simon was going through a divorce at this time, Suzy driving a huge white van from the mainland, effected an ‘escape’ for Simon, his studio was crammed in and, they ran away together in the, ‘van of rock’. First settling in France, before setting up the Supertone Records North of Valencia, Spain.

Supertone Records evolved into a residential studio, with a sophisticated amalgam of analogue equipment available, becoming recognised for the quality of recordings that rekindled the feel of the 60’s and 70’s. Suzy praises Simon’s production skills and meticulous equipment choice, alongside fastidious microphone placement. Musicians could stay, live and eat together, connecting as a musical family, with recording sessions becoming more organic as a result.

Their own Blueberry Pie, was cooked up in those studios, with drummer Steve Gibson, and Jonny Henderson flying across, the studio being already equipped with Hammond, Leslie and Wurlitzer Piano, for Jonny, Sakae drums for Steve. The result was an album that has found world wide appraisal.

Steve had worked on past albums with Simon, Jonny stepping in whilst Simon was working on his ‘Knife’ album, the bond was formed, and the seed of Starlite Campbell Band had all but germinated at that point, the bass slot soon to be resolved.

The conversion to bass evolved from a studio jam, where she was encouraged to fill in on the bass, Simon decided she was a ‘natural’, the die was cast.

Suzy and Simon married, Suzy receiving a Gretsch Thunderjet bass guitar as a wedding gift, Mike Lull followed on her Birthday.

Brexit, of course the dreaded Brexit reared its ugly multi faced head, currency changes and soaring costs rapidly eroded at the concept of a studio in Spain. Supertone Records was packed in its box, finding them returning to the Isle Of Man, though it’s likely the studio will be reborn somewhere else when the mists of devolution clears.

Meanwhile, The Starlite Campbell Band were in Linton to perform live for the first time. Blueberry Pie has brought recognition and an extensive tour, including a headline spot at the prestigious Wangaratta Jazz And Blues Festival in Australia. Their ‘mince pie’ tour will bring them to The Iron Road in Evesham, later in the year. Suzy and Simon are also currently working on a new album, ‘The Language OF Curiosity’, destined to move on from Blueberry Pie 60’s feel, stepping forward into the 70’s for inspiration. Watch this space!

Graham Munn of Slap Magazine, August 2018.