Born in Los Angeles
Al Campos was born and raised in the north/east side of Los Angeles, a neighborhood known as “The Avenues,” just off of E. Ave. 36 & Pasadena Ave. It was an area of lower income working class families, with it’s share of gang violence and drugs.
Music, not gangs
The house in the photograph to the left is where Al grew up from 1961-1971. It was at this house, where little Al opened up his most cherished Christmas present in 1969, his first set of drums. As soon as all the christmas gifts were opened, Al carried his drum set outside and set them up exactly at the same spot where he is standing in the photo above.
Wisely, his mother Adela, herself a former gospel singer with “The Messengers,” knew the value of music and bought the drum set hoping that music would grab her son’s heart and passion instead of gangs and street fights, which there were many that Al had witnessed on his way to and from elementary school. He played those drums until they moved from this house to Highland Park after he graduated from Loreto Street Elementary School.
From 1972 – 1975 Al attended Luther Burbank Junior High School. He immediately joined the school music program under the instruction of his first music teacher, Mr. William Court.
Al started playing tenor saxophone in the 7th grade. He liked it very much and after a few months began getting a nice sound. He learned to read notes and was getting more and more comfortable with the fingering positions. Al was switching between the first and second chair with his friend, still to this day, Frank Gonzalez. In the 8th grade Al began to play baritone sax in the school orchestra and finally in his last year, as a 9th grader Al switched to an entirely new instrument, the slide trombone, which he still plays to this day.
Al explains, “I made this switch because during my 8th grade year I got tired of carrying that big heavy bari sax back and forth from school. I asked Mr. Court if I could play trumpet but he told me there were already too many trumpet players. He pointed to the instrument cabinet and told me to take a trombone home and practice on that. I didn’t really want to play the trombone but it was lighter than the bari sax so I took it home. The year was around 1974 and I had heard recordings by groups like Chicago, Tower of Power, Ohio Players, Earth Wind & Fire, Blood Sweat & Tears. I practiced playing the trombone by learning the horn parts on all of those albums in the bedroom, where I lived with my sister and mother.”
Al Campos attended four different high schools! Not once did he get kicked out of any of the schools, on the contrary. His mother Adela had worked hard, educated herself and was now able to relocate in search of a better quality of life for her and her son. Although Al did attend four schools, two of them were very significant to his musical experience and personal growth.
Benjamin Franklin High School (1975-76) & the mighty Panther Marching Band under the leadership of Mr. Richard Quan and Eagle Rock High School (1976-77), the school which exposed him to the very best of Jazz under the leadership of John Rinaldo.
After graduating high school from Ulysses Grant High in 1978, Al flew the coup and has not looked back!
He has lived in Oahu, HI, Chicago and San Francisco. Al moved to North Beach in San Francisco in 1981. Working different jobs, he landed an awesome job at Ashkenazie & Co. Chinese and Japanese Art gallery in the Fairmont Hotel. He worked there as cleaner, packing, shipping & receiving and eventually moved into sales, handling rare & important works of art to collectors all over the country. After working at the gallery from 1982-1988, Al realised that although he loved his career and had a real, natural talent for presenting wonderful works of art to collectors, he himself was also an artist. A musician and composer and he had to return to his natural gift, music. In 1988 he graciously retired from the gallery and was once again a struggling musician.
At one of his gigs, Al was playing trombone in a Brazilian group called, Voz de Samba. The band was playing at El Rio, south of the Mission district. There, on a warm Tuesday night, “latin night” he met a woman who was visiting San Francisco from Denmark, a land that Al knew absolutely nothing about in 1988. Five months later, he would marry Lone, the girl from Denmark.
Living in Europe…
Al has been living in Copenhagen Denmark with his Danish wife. They have lived in Denmark since 1990, relocating after the devastating earthquake in 1989.
From 2012 until summer 2015, Al Campos was studying for his teaching degree at N. Zahles Lærerseminarium (teacher seminarium) in Copenhagen as an English and Music teacher. In June 2015 Al received his teaching degree. Since 2016, Al has been working fulltime, teaching music and English to pupils, grades 0-9 at Al Quds Skole in Nordvest, Copenhagen. Prior to that he taught music and english at Institut Sankt Joseph and also at Odsherreds Efterskole from 2006-2011.
Al still performs music with his band SoulHarmonic as well as singing and recording in the genres of Soul, Jazz, Funk & Salsa, with deep roots in Gospel music. With his own band, Al Campos & SoulHarmonic they have released two CD’s and have performed throughout Denmark and have had the pleasure of touring East Africa three times.
Being the son of his father, a preacher & a gospel singing mother, he was brought up in church. Singing in his first church gospel choir at age 11, Al continues to compose & sing gospel music to this day. Al Campos is also the owner and founder of his own independent recording label & production company, positiveSOUL Productions which he started in his North Beach apartment in San Francisco, CA.