It was apparent at an early age that Indiana native Royce Campbell was destined to be a world traveler. When he was four years old Royce's mother remarried a career navy man and Royce spent his childhood residing in such diverse locales as Japan, Barbados, Spain, Philadelphia and South Carolina. Although Royce had played guitar since age nine, he didn't become serious about music until age 15 when he became interested in blues and blues rock guitarists such as Eric Clapton and Jimi Hendrix. By the time Royce finished high school, he was certain he wanted to pursue a career in music, but he didn't have the means to go to music school. Fortunately, his uncle Carroll DeCamp, a renowned arranger/pianist/guitarist, invited Royce to live with him and study.
Soon Royce's reputation as a quality musician spread, and in 1973 he was asked to tour with vocalist Marvin Gaye. Two years later, Royce was hired by a local music contractor to do three concerts with Henry Mancini in Indianapolis. Mancini was so impressed by Royce's abilities that he asked him to become his regular touring guitarist. Royce would remain with Mancini for 19 years until Mancini's death in 1994. That Mancini was indeed a good mentor to Royce is obvious not only in his style but also in his prolific CD output.
Royce's first CD, Nighttime Daydreams, was released in 1990 on the Dutch label Timeless Records. Since then Royce has released a total of fourteen CD's as leader or co leader (see discography). He has also appeared on over thirty recordings as a sideman.
Since the Japanese label Paddlewheel released Project G 5, A Tribute to Wes Montgomery in 1993, Royce has repeatedly produced CD's which feature him in the company of many of the greats of the jazz guitar, including legendary guitarists Herb Ellis, Tal Farlow, Jimmy Raney, and Cal Collins, Pat Martino, John Abercrombie, Larry Coryell, Dave Stryker and Bucky Pizzarelli. His latest project for Paddlewheel, Project G-5, A Tribute to Joe Pass, includes Charlie Byrd, Gene Bertoncini, Mundel Lowe, and John Pisano.
A Tribute To Henry Mancini, on Episode Records, is one of Royce's personal favorites. This CD was the highest rated jazz guitar CD in the country on the radio airplay charts for four weeks reaching #8 overall and received much critical acclaim. All in all six consecutive recordings produced by Royce have made it onto the radio airplay charts.
Royce has toured in Europe six times and toured Japan nine times as a soloist. Royce has also performed with many jazz greats such as Mel Torme, James Moody, Nancy Wilson, Sarah Vaughn, Jack McDuff, Ray Brown, Dave Brubeck, Joe Williams, Cleo Laine, Eddie Daniels, Eddie Harris, Frank Morgan and Mose Allison.
Royce was featured on the cover of the two main jazz guitar magazines String Jazz and Just Jazz Guitar. He was also featured in profiles in Jazz Times, Down Beat, Guitar Player Magazine, 21st Century Guitar, Japan's Swing Journal and Germany's Akustik Gitarre. It is apparent that more and more people are becoming aware of Royce Campbell's talents (see reviews) as a world class jazz guitar master.