Contemporary Woman of Blues
Suzy Starlite is a professional bass guitar player, songwriter, recording artist, and member of The Starlite Campbell Band with Simon Campbell (singer, songwriter, and lead guitarist), Together they formed Supertone Records and by February of 2017 had released their first album ‘Blueberry Pie’. ‘Blueberry Pie’, was nominated as Best Blues Album of 2017 by the European Blues Awards. Other musicians featured on ‘Blueberry Pie’ include Steve Gibson (drums and percussion), Jonny Hendersen (Hammond organ and Wurlitzer electric keyboard), and Danny Boy Sanchez (harmonica). The album features eleven original songs written by Suzy Starlite and Simon Campbell. ‘Blueberry Pie’ is a blend of rock and blues inspired by the blues of the early ’60s such as John Mayal and the Blues Breakers, Faces, Paul Butterfield Blues Band, early Fleetwood Mac, and Led Zeppelin. It received over fifty rave reviews and has been played all over the world earning a top ten spot on UK’s, Australia’s, The Netherlands, and America’s blues charts. To the success of ‘Blueberry Pie’, credit is due to the collection of highly-skilled, creative, and experienced musicians. ‘Blueberry Pie’ was the first album Suzy recorded playing bass guitar, but was not her first album.
The details of Suzy’s career paint a picture of an individual devoted and focused on her skills as a musician. By the age of sixteen, Suzy was playing guitar and writing her own material. She went on to attend Salford University where she studied Performance and Media. She met three young musicians at the university with whom she formed a serendipitous bond. Together Suzy and Tim Allen (of the band ‘K’), John Smith (John Lennon Songwriting Award winner), and Alan Lowles (session musician of ‘I Am Kloot’ and Airtight Studios) formed the band Megiddo, an all-acoustic band which featured acoustic guitars, mandolin, and fretless bass. In 1996 they released an album of original songs called ‘On the Outside’. The album gave credence to their careers and a spot in the UK folk circuit. Despite the band’s success, they disbanded in 1997. Having touring and recording experience prepared Suzy to further her career and she continued working with Tim Allen.
Suzy and Tim Allen worked together performing acoustic folk-rock with electronica. Their debut was at a club known as Manchester’s Night and Day and the Eastern Haze Festival where they performed under the name Starlite. In 2009 she met Simon Campbell. The two hit it off and began performing live together. Their biggest live gig was at Manifest, the Isle of Man’s largest 3-day festival. The chemistry between the two grew as they continued to write and record together. In 2013 they moved to Valencia Spain where Suzy wrote the melody and lyrics with Simon for ‘Happiness in Halos’. Simon’s guitar in this song is reminiscent of David Gilmore in early Pink Floyd. Suzy’s vocals are slow and sultry conjuring up images of smokey bars and pool halls. It is a smooth surrealistic blend of voice and guitar. The first song that Suzy and Simon co-wrote was ‘Do You Want Me’, which was for Simon’s second solo album ‘The Knife’. Suzy sang back-up vocals on some of the other songs but had yet to pick up the bass guitar.
In 2014 While living in France, Suzy pursued yet another project with Simon on an EP called ‘Electrolite’ with their friend Mark Cleator. Suzy writes in a recent email, “He flew out when we were living in France and we wrote together for a week in the French countryside. When Simon was recording his second solo album ‘The Knife’ in the UK, Mark rocked up with an estate car loaded to the roof with a vast array of vintage analog synths and we recorded the ‘Electrolite’ EP over the weekend at The Chairworks recording studio.” Even if you don’t care for electronic music and disco was never your “thing”. Suzy’s vocals are up-front, bold, and make you wish to hear more. Knowing that all synths were vintage adds to the pleasure and appreciation of the recordings. All songs were written by Suzy Starlite herself, Simon Campbell, and Mark Cleator and were published by Supertone Records which is owned and operated by Suzy and Simon.
In the interim between 2014 and 2017 when ‘Blueberry Pie’ was released, Suzy not only fell in love with the bass guitar but also fell in love and married Simon Campbell. To show his love and appreciation, Simon presented Suzy with a Mike Lull V4 Custom Jazz bass guitar as a wedding gift (she is currently a Mike Lull endorsed bass player). She had been playing bass guitar for about four years when she realized it was her passion. ‘Blueberry Pie’ was the first album they recorded with Suzy on bass. By 2018 her bass playing skills had improved to the point that she was featured in Bass Guitar Magazine, which is one of the number one printed magazines in the UK. There was an in-depth interview about Suzy’s career and detailed equipment run down as well as a front cover mention. In the article Suzy states, “My job is to be the custodian of the groove.” and goes on to say ” You either have a natural feel for the groove or you don’t – and I don’t think that’s something you can teach anyone.”
The rewards of having a highly acclaimed successful album under their belts kept coming. Due to the success of ‘Blueberry Pie,’ The Starlite Campbell Band was invited to perform at the three day Wangaratta festival of jazz and blues in Australia where they headlined the Saturday night of the three-day fest. Their new project which is just on the horizon is called ‘The Language of Curiosity’ and is expected to be released by April 9, 2021. ‘Stone Cold Crazy’ is the first single release from ‘The Language of Curiosity”.
The second release from ‘The Language of Curiosity’ is ‘Lay It Out On Me’.
To further familiarize yourself with the music of the Starlite Campbell Band, please be sure to visit their website starlite-campbell.com and listen to their live videos. I recommend ‘You’re So Good For Me’ where Suzy has a nice bass solo and keyboardist Jonny Henderson shines. ‘Walkin’ Out The Door’ will take you back to the first time you heard Zeppelin. Suzy’s bass in ‘Walkin’ Out The Door’, is the driving force and foundation of the song. With Simon adding just the right amount of wah-wah this song will take you back in time wishing you could stay there. I also recommend ‘Cry Over You’, which features more amazing keyboard work from Henderson and some pleasing Suzy and Simon harmony. Enough can’t be said of Simon’s excellent guitar work.
Weekly on Spotify, there is a weekly selection of songs from Suzy and Simon’s vinyl collection under the title ‘Vinyl Vavoom’ as well as all songs recorded by the Starlite Campbell Band, Suzy, and Simon individually. The contribution to music this duo has made and is continuing to make is priceless as well as endless. There are even recordings of the Starlite Campbell Band Radio on Spotify, where Suzy and Simon discuss some of the music of the great musicians and bands from the beloved ’60s.
Suzy Starlite has definitely earned a place in the outstanding women of blues category. She is truly a dedicated and talented musician, who has realized her calling, a task many of us strive for but fail to accomplish in a lifetime.
Go to starlite-campbell.com where you can pre-order your copy of ‘The Language of Curiosity’ either in compact CD disc or vinyl, order a t-shirt, and/or become a patron to support the band.