Vintage Vinyl

Jim Campbell

The Lights of Tucson/Child of Clay

Laurie Records 3548, July 1970

"But Tucson my heart is yearning, Like Bronson, my wheels are turning." How could an unknown artist hit No. 1 in a specific market, but nowhere else? Record and release an innocuous but sorta memorable country-ish/rock-ish pop tune that has a pre-Brit Invasion feel, with that city's name in it.

While Jim Campbell's Laurie Records released "Lights of Tucson" backed with "Child of Clay" only peaked at No. 93 on Billboard's July 25, 1970, chart, it hit No. 1 in Tucson for two weeks between July 17 and July 24, 1970. The track received international mileage but no acclaim with releases on Australia's Festival Records, France's Vogue Records, and London Records in both New Zealand and the UK. In scouring the web for info on Campbell, the only thing I could find is that he won some sort of Schaefer Beer contest and was signed to Laurie Records by John Mack, then head of the brewery's commercial-producing wing.

"Lights of Tucson" was written by Louis Zerato, who was associated with Ernest Peter "Ernie" Maresca, an American singer, songwriter and record company executive who was involved with writing some of Dion's biggest hits, including "Runaround Sue" and "The Wanderer."

Campbell had two other Laurie releases, "The Light in the Window"/"Runaway Joe's" and "Easy Rider"/"Land of Love," but neither of these charted. The July 18, 1970, issue of Billboard reported that "John Abbott is arranging the first Jim Campbell album for Laurie." Guessing from the fact that six tracks were released, an album's worth of material might have been recorded, but a search of Laurie Records album discographies show no such release.

"Can't wait to be there with her high in the Catalinas, The lights of Tucson shining in her eyes..."

Lee Joseph grew up in Tucson. He's a DJ (, marketer of cool shit (Reverberations Media) and founder/CEO of internationally respected Dionysus Records, an indie that has long specialized in releasing super-rare music, and more. He came of age in the first wave of Tucson punk rock and is an expert on Tucson music. He now lives in California.

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