Pop & Hiss

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David Campbell and Beck: father yields to the son*

July 10, 2009 |  5:22 pm


David Campbell had a unique vantage point for observing the first sprouting of the musical vision of a certain modern rock hero: his son, Beck.

“When he was first starting to get interested in music, I think he was around 11 or 12,” said Campbell, who’ll be conducting the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra on Sunday behind Ray LaMontagne at the Hollywood Bowl, one of four concerts for which he’s created the orchestral arrangements to accompany a variety of pop and rock performers.

“Earlier than that he was mainly writing -- stories and poems -- so I thought he was going to be a writer,” said Campbell, who was busy at that time in the early ‘80s scoring string, horn and full orchestra arrangements for a wide array of recording artists. “He was hanging around the studio a little bit at the time, and one day I thought I’d take some time and show him some stuff about what I was doing.

“Somewhere about five minutes into it, he stopped and says, ‘That’s really cool -- but what if you did it this way?’ I forget what it was, but he said something really cool and it took me by surprise, and I had the thought, ‘Wow,  I should shut up and just ask him what he thinks.’

“That’s kind of set the pattern for our collaborations ever since, because he has such a unique perspective on creating anything, really: music, drawings, conceptual stuff,” said Campbell, who has contributed musically to nearly all of Beck’s albums.

“So that’s basically how it rolls. When we work together, the first thing I want to know is, What does he think? And then I fill in.”

Related: Death Cab, Fogerty and the Phil? David Campbell gets it.

--Randy Lewis

Photo: Stefano Paltera / For The Times

*Update: An earlier version of this story said Campbell would be conducting the Los Angeles Philharmonic on Sunday with Ray Lamontagne.