But in 1960 Campbell moved to Los Angeles where he joined another band, The Champs, and became a session musician. Then as a leading member of the loose studio group The Wrecking Crew, he played on many and varied hit records over the next few years, including ones by The Monkees, Frank Sinatra and Merle Haggard. He also became friends with Elvis Presley after working on the soundtrack to the King’s Viva Las Vegas film in 1964.
And although Campbell became an artist in his own right in 1961 – when he signed a solo deal with the small Crest Records – he continued to collaborate. In fact, he formed the Gee Cees group and performed with hit act the Beach Boys. He also became a TV regular and appeared on the music shows Star Route, Hollywood Jamboree and Shindig!
As a solo artist, Campbell scored his first major hit in 1965 with a cover of Buffy Sainte-Marie’s “Universal Soldier.” But the disappointing response to its follow-ups nearly saw him dropped by his new major label, Capitol. Fortunately, he saved his career when he teamed up with producer Al De Lory and began recording a string of songs that would achieve classic status.