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Ray Campi Establishment

Austin, Texas

Records with Sonobeat in 1968
One commercial 45 RPM release on Sonobeat Records (1968)
Listen to more below
Ray (center), flanked on the left by Henry Hill on banjo and on the right by Jay Clarke on sax, during a rehearsal break for the Ray Campi Establishment Sonobeat recording session

Ray Campi's Civil Disobedience backed with He's A Devil (In His Own Home Town) gives Sonobeat its first and only novelty 45 RPM single. Recorded and released in 1968 and credited to "Ray Campi Establishment", Civil Disobedience is Ray's own take on the same general subject addressed by Country Joe and the Fish in their 1965 single, I-Feel-Like-I'm-Fixin'-To-Die: hippie sit-ins, protests, and riots in reaction to the unpopular Vietnam conflict. The "B" side, He's a Devil, is an Irving Berlin tune performed in a 1930s style reminiscent of The New Vaudeville Band's 1966 hit, Winchester Cathedral. But Ray's rockabilly sensibilities distinguish his performances, so that neither Civil Disobedience nor He's A Devil sounds derivative.

Ray Campi's performing and recording career spans more than half a century, continuing into the early 20-teens. Based in Austin, Ray begins his musical career in the '50s, and, therefore, comes to Sonobeat in 1968 well prepared for the recording studio, bringing along professional sidemen, including Henry Hill on banjo and Jay Clark on sax. Ray's tracks are among the first recorded at Sonobeat's Western Hills Drive home-based studio in northwest Austin, and, in fact, Ray overdubs his vocal tracks in producer Bill Josey Sr.'s living room.

Civil Disobedience and He's A Devil are among Sonobeat's better produced tracks during its early history. Unfortunately, however, the single – perceived as neither fish nor fowl – gets little radio airplay, leading to poor sales, and, therefore, is a commercial failure. Nonetheless, both the Ray Campi Establishment and Ray's single for Sonobeat are unique and wholly entertaining.

Ray moves to Hollywood shortly after the Sonobeat recording sessions and takes a teaching job at a Los Angeles junior high school. But he can't jettison music from his core, eventually returning to Austin to reboot his singing career. Ray's big break, however, comes in the '70s, when he's rediscovered and begins recording for the Las Vegas-based rockabilly-centric Rollin' Rock label and resumes touring. Known far and wide as "The King of Rockabilly", Ray is inducted into the Austin Music Awards Hall of Fame in 1983 and into the Rockabilly Hall of Fame in the late 1990s. Ray passes away in his sleep, at age 86, on March 11, 2021.

Ray Campi Establishment personnel

Ray Campi: bass and vocals
Jay Clark: sax and clarinet
Henry Hill: banjo and harmonica
Unidentified musician: piano
Unidentified musician: drums

Sonobeat stereo 45 RPM release PV-s111 (1968)

"A" side: Civil Disobedience (Ray Campi) • 3:58
"B" side: He's a Devil (In His Own Home Town) (Irving Berlin) • 3:26

Released week of October 20, 1968* • PV-s111
Produced by Bill Josey & Earl Podolnick
Engineered by Rim Kelley
Recorded at Sonobeat's Western Hills Drive studio, Austin, Texas, on August 15, 1968
Recording equipment: ElectroVoice 665 microphones, ElectroVoice Slimair 636 microphones, Sony ECM22 electret condenser microphones, Ampex AG350 and 354 quarter-inch 2-track tape decks, custom 10-channel portable stereo mixer, Ampex 202 tape stock
Vinyl collector information for PV-s111

Approximately 1,000 copies pressed; approximately 50 copies marked "PROMO" and "NOT FOR SALE"
Lacquers mastered and vinyl copies pressed by Sidney J. Wakefield & Company, Phoenix, Arizona
Generic sleeve
Label blanks printed by Powell Offset Services, Austin, Texas
In the dead wax:
   Civil Disobedience: SJW-10930
   He's A Devil (In His Own Home Town): SJW-10930
   "SJW" in the matrix number identifies Sidney J. Wakefield & Company as the lacquer mastering and pressing plant

Unreleased Sonobeat recordings

There are no unreleased songs by Ray Campi Establishment in the Sonobeat archives

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A publicity photo Ray begins using in the early 1960s
The Ray Campi Establishment master tape box indicates there are two versions of Civil Disobedience, one with children laughing at the end of each line and the other without, but it's the non-laughing version that ends up on the 45 RPM stereo single release