A musician from his elementary school years, Scott Campbell started writing songs at age 8. In 1974, while still in high school, Campbell taught himself how to record and played all the instruments to release his first single called “Apparition”.
In April 1977, while at a basement party somewhere in Metro Detroit, Campbell met Sheila Edwards and Michael Profane. Campbell says he was impressed with Edwards’s voice, comparing her to the best female rock vocalist he had heard up to that time – Grace Slick of Jefferson Airplane. Since the three had an interest in punk rock, he suggested they form a band and call it The Sillies.
Campbell says his goal was to create a “progressive punk band” – one that would pull from a range of influences. The Sillies were known to be multi-instrumentalists with several members of the band trading off on drums, bass, and guitar, and keyboard as needed per song in a live setting.
When discussing his songs with Campbell says “lyrically, my inspiration was the life of a factory rat putting in 12-hour days and seven-day work weeks at times, earning money to support what I was trying to do musically. This is most obvious in “Break Loose”. Other songs like “Love You To Death” and “Sex For The Handicapped” were good-natured tongue-in-cheek songs about sexual deviance that suited my sense of humor. Steve (Sortor) used to say that we would be the first band to be assassinated onstage. He thought we might offend people. My musical inspiration was, in no small part, The Stooges. Their name suggested a dopey comedy trio but they came off as something much darker. I saw The Sillies as the same kind of name.”
After forming the band, Campbell ran up against the bar scene in Detroit which forced bands to play sets of Top 40 songs. This creative straight jacket was not interesting to someone who felt that would be pretty much the same as Campbell’s day job – working on the assembly line at Chrysler. In the Spring of 1978, Campbell and guitarist Vince Bannon started booking shows into Bookie’s Club 870 helped to create, what some have called, Detroit’s equivalent of New York’s CBGB’s.
“The great thing about Bookie’s was it was a community of musicians. I didn’t simply book friends or even bands I liked. There were acts that I felt earned the right to play there, even if I didn’t get along with the band members or like their music,” Campbell said.
The Sillies released one 7 inch in 1979 – “No Big Deal” b/w “Is There Lunch After Death?” on their own Nebula Records label.
By the late 1980s, The Sillies under most of the original members was finished. Scott Campbell continued to have bands, release music, and do shows throughout the Detroit area.
In 2002, Cherry Blackwolf had the band come out to Los Angeles for a reunion which included the creation of a music video for “Heavy Breathing”.
In 2018, Campbell reformed a version of The Sillies to mark the 40th anniversary of the start of the Bookie’s Club 870 scene with a show at the New Way Bar in Ferndale.
4 thoughts on “The Sillies”
I always find it irritating when articles on Scott refer to him as having played all the instruments on the single “Apparition”, as though it was a solo project. As I was a founding member of the group, I seem to remember it differently. I co-wrote “Apparition” and ‘Astral Spirit” with Scott. I sang on “Astral Spirit”. I played all of the keyboards on both songs. “(Quandry and Solution” was 100% Scott’s.) The songs were recorded on my TEAC four-track reel to reel recorder. After I left the band, Scott rerecorded the single. He did play all the instruments on that third and final version but copying almost note for note the parts that I first created. This was initially a GROUP effort and it would be nice to be included in the history of the band and the single.
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Art, if you remember, I played Mellotron on ALL versions of the recordings. You played your Mini-Moog on the first two. It WAS originally a two man group. Since you left the public eye, what few people who even know about the Apparition single know about the first two versions, the second one which also contained “Quandary & Solution”, on which I played all the instruments. I liked what you did on the early recordings but when you quit, I was forced to do everything and re-do both songs, which you co-wrote, of course. I gave you writing credit on all versions of the songs.
With all due respect, (and I sincerely mean that), you’re wrong about me not playing Mellotron on the first two versions of the single. Astral Spirit was my song. It was my concept to do an “all Mellotron song”, something that I don’t believe had been done before or since. It was my melody. I had keyboard experience, so why would I teach you to play the melody if I could already play it myself? My memory of that is pretty clear. With the exception of some atmospheric, echoed slide guitar at the end., I played all the Mellotron on that piece. We’re just going to have to agree to disagree on that one.
As to Quandry and Solution, I stated in my first post that it was ” 100% yours”, (and the best song on that single). I also stated that you played everything on the third version of the single. I appreciate that you are continuing to give me writers’ credit for the songs. That is very kind.
I don’t want to turn this into a food fight. I’ve always been impressed by what you managed to achieve in your career. I decided to go a different way and I don’t regret my decision. I’m not going to continue to argue these points, I wish you nothing but the best.
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