Tommy Campbell grew up outside of Philadelphia steeped in a musical environment, permeated with the notes of his father, an organist and singer, and his uncle, Jimmy Smith, the renowned Hammond B-3 virtuoso.
“I was surrounded by music from the time I was two years old. My father and drummer Mickey Roker would rehearse at the house a lot. Whenever Uncle Jimmy had a new record he was releasing, he’d come over with a prerelease copy. We would listen to it together as a family. I used to play along with those records for hours.”
Tommy attended the Berklee College of Music, the international center for education in professional music renowned for its acclaimed Jazz faculty, where he majored in instrumental performance (1979) and received the Distinguished Alumni Award in 1998.
Campbell’s long tenure with Dizzy began in the late 70’s, and continued through the 80’s and 90’s, and concluded with a personal jam session with the renowned master several months before Gillespie’s passing in January of 1993.
“Dizzy taught me to be as relaxed and loose about the music. He knew how to have fun while being serious at the same time. It was a balance, like the music. He attracted entertainers, lesser-known musicians, and fans into jazz music. He was a real people person, and a real professional.”
He has been inspired by legendary drummers such as Buddy Rich, Billy Cobham, Max Roach, the late greats Art Blakey and Tony Williams