Rory Campbell was encouraged to play the pipes from an early age by his father, Roddy Campbell, singer and piper from the Isle of Barra. Rory started off by playing in pipe bands, Central Region Schools and Forth Valley Pipes and Drums. While being involved with pipe bands he also developed an interest in the tin whistle and started playing in his father’s group, Gleus, performing at folk clubs, festivals and the odd television appearance.
In 1993 Rory started playing with Deaf Shepherd and recorded three albums with the band before leaving in 2003. During those ten years the band evolved and developed, performing at festivals all round Europe with interest in the band stretching all round the world.
In 1996 Rory recorded his first solo album under the production of Fred Morrison who has been a huge influence in many ways including composition. Many of Rory’s own compositions were recorded on the album.
After working on the album together, Fred and Rory began to play together in the group The Big Spree with whom they made a television appearance on the Eolas production, Tacsi. Since then Rory has worked on consecutive productions of Tacsi in 1998, 1999, 2000 and 2001. He is often being invited as a session musician and has appeared on many recordings including; Jim Malcolm-Rohallion, Anam-Riptide, MacKenzie-Camhanach, The complete Songs of Robert Burns Vol 4, The Captain’s Collection, A Highland Fiddler and many more.
In the autumn of 1996 Rory was asked to join the group Caledon with whom he recorded one album, The Noble Trousers, and toured Germany on two occasions.
In 1998 he was asked by the drummer, Mike Travis, to take part in a project entitled Uncharted Territory, which was a collaboration between jazz musicians and folk musicians performing original material. The project was a big success and plans are being made for future performances.
During October/November of 1998 Rory went into the studio to record an album with fellow Deaf Shepherder Malcolm Stitt under the production of Jim Sutherland (ex-Easy Club, The Lanterns). The result was an exciting and innovating album, Field of Bells, on which Rory plays mostly Reel Pipes (Border Pipes) and whistles.
In January of 1999, Rory sang in Andy Thorburn’s New Voices commission for Celtic Connections, “Tuath Gu Deas”, which has subsequently been recorded and performed at festivals around the country.
During 1998 Rory was among a group of friends and musicians who decided to collaborate on a recording for no other reason than to make good music. This resulted in the Cantychiels album on Greentrax, which has been well received, and the band will be performing at a few festivals this year.
Rory was commissioned to write his own piece of music for Celtic Connections 2000. The piece was written for 5 Low Whistle and flute players: Michael McGoldrick, Iain MacDonald, Marc Duff, Annie Grace and Rory and was well received at it’s performance on 16th January 2000 and again at a repeat performance in January 2001.
Having also joined the Old Blind Dogs at the end of 1998, Rory has helped the band record and tour three studio albums and one live album to date: The World's Room 1999, Fit? 2001, Gab O Mey, 2003 and Play Live, 2005. All are available on Green Linnet Records. Old Blind Dogs were voted Scottish Folk Band of the Year at the 2004 Scots Trad Music Awards.
A new book of tunes for pipes and other instruments has been completed and is now widely available with distribution from Soar Valley Music under the title Field of Bells-Music for the Tradition.
Plans are under way for book 2.
In December of 2003, Rory put on a show at Edinburgh’s Queen’s Hall, for a different take on Christmas songs, involving: Eliza Carthy, Rory McLeod, Karine Polwart, Mary MacMaster and many others. The show was recorded and broadcast by the BBC, it was also recorded for a live CD released on Green Linnet Records “Cold Blow These Winter Winds.
After two albums with fellow Deaf Shepherd member, Malcolm Stitt (Field of Bells on the KRL label and NUSA on Vertical Records), Rory is now joined by Donald Hay of Mystery Juice and La Boum on drums and Jonny Hardie of Old Blind Dogs on guitar for a new CD to be released on Vertical Records in 2005.
The Blow Show is a new project to be aired in Glasgow at Celtic Connections Festival, 2006, and will involve Brian Finnegan on flutes and whistle, Fraser Fifield on saxaphone and whistles, Neil Yates on trumpet plus other special guests.
Deaf Shepherd - Ae Spark o Nature’s Fire
Deaf Shepherd - Synergy
Deaf Shepherd - Even in the Rain
Rory Campbell - Magaid a Phipir(The Piper’s Whim)
Caledon - The Noble Trousers
Rory Campbell & Malcolm Stitt - Field of Bells
Various - Maestros Solistas Europas de Gaita
Cantychiels - Cantychiels
Old Blind Dogs - The World’s Room
The Captain’s Collection - Captain Simon Fraser-1773 to 1852
Andy Thorburn - Tuath gu Deas(North to South)
Old Blind Dogs - Fit?
Rory Campbell & Malcolm Stitt – Nusa
Old Blind Dogs - Gab o Mey
Various Artists - Cold Blow These Winter Winds
Old Blind Dogs - Play Live