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Former Lawman Rediscovers Passion for Music: A Journey of Love

In his home studio in Lincoln County, Mike Campbell performs an original song.

Seated in his home studio, Mike Campbell shares insights about his life and music.

During the spring of 2021, Mike Campbell dedicated his days to serving at the Lincoln County/Brookhaven Government Complex, ensuring the safety of the public and government personnel in his Sheriff’s Deputy uniform. In the evenings, he immersed himself in transforming his workshop into a personal recording studio, equipped with a drum kit, keyboard, bass guitar, and a variety of acoustic and electric guitars.

Following his retirement in June 2021 after a tenure of 13 years with the Sheriff’s Office and eight years in the courthouse, Campbell found solace and passion in spending a significant amount of his time in his studio.

Throughout his 72 years, Campbell has embraced various roles — from a professional musician, respiratory therapist, and soldier to a law enforcement officer, paramedic, and firearms dealer. However, underlying all these experiences is what he describes as his Scot-Irish “gift of gab” and a profound inclination towards songwriting.

His East Lincoln studio houses pads, binders, stacks of paper, and CDs that hold a collection of his musical creations.

“I draw inspiration from people and topics that hold personal significance,” Campbell expressed. Among those individuals is his wife, Mary Farr Campbell, for whom he penned a song titled “Look Over Your Shoulder.”

Strumming a flat-top six-string acoustic guitar with his distinctive fingerpicking/strumming technique, Campbell sings with a vibrant voice, assuring his wife, “You’re the prize,” and pledging to remain by her side as a constant presence.

At the age of 5, Campbell developed a love for The Lawrence Welk Show, a musical extravaganza he enjoyed watching with his mother. Despite being initially discouraged from learning the guitar due to his small hands, his mother’s thoughtful gesture of gifting him a drum kit set him on a musical journey. Mastering the drums and bass guitar, Campbell’s aspirations solidified when he witnessed The Beatles’ iconic performance on The Ed Sullivan Show in the 1960s. An encounter with rock guitar legend Jimi Hendrix at City Park Stadium in New Orleans during his teenage years left an indelible mark on him.

“Music was my ultimate passion then, and it remains so now,” Campbell affirmed.

Since 1985, Campbell has been crafting songs, a pursuit that began when he relocated from his hometown of New Orleans to California and became part of a local band.

“However, my life took a different turn when I found my faith in Los Angeles and had to distance myself from certain influences,” shared Campbell, reflecting on the pervasive negative influences he encountered.

Subsequently, he sought a fresh start in Nashville, only to encounter similar challenges with promoters and influences, prompting his return to New Orleans.

There, while pursuing a career as a respiratory therapist and raising a family, Campbell gradually drifted away from his musical roots. It wasn’t until his brother, a doctor, gifted him a Les Paul electric guitar and a Fender amp that he reignited his musical spark.

“My brother encouraged me to reignite my musical journey,” Campbell recounted. “And so, I did. I fell back in love with music.”

Following a period of illness during the 2020 pandemic, Campbell found solace in his studio, dedicating countless hours to playing, composing, and reflecting. This experience inspired him to create a keyboard composition titled “When I Cross the River,” delving into themes of acceptance and mortality.

Recently, Campbell composed a heartfelt song for his son Thomas, who returned from a military tour in Afghanistan. Titled “A Clear Night Sky,” the song encapsulates his son’s perspective, capturing the serene beauty of the desert at night.

All of Campbell’s songs are original creations, and he eagerly seizes opportunities to share his musical narratives at festivals and venues. While his devotion to his faith and family, including his two daughters and granddaughters, remains unwavering, music serves as a constant undercurrent in his life.

Drawing inspiration from his childhood memories in New Orleans, where he and his siblings engaged in musical pursuits, Campbell reflected on the transformative power of music in his life.

As he sips tea from a mug adorned with a caricature of the TV detective Columbo, Campbell selects a 12-string acoustic guitar from his studio wall.

Strumming the strings, he harmonizes with the sentiments expressed by the writer of the biblical book of Ecclesiastes, emphasizing the transient nature of worldly pursuits.

“Draped in black attire, Campbell, with his gray-white hair and goatee, resonates with the notion of vanity as he performs,” reflecting on the ephemeral nature of human achievements.

Continuing to compose and perform, Campbell remains steadfast in his musical journey, aspiring to create and share his melodies for as long as divine providence allows.

“As time unfolds, we shall ascend into the embrace of God.”