NEW YORK — Mary Campbell, whose childhood affection for the big bands and opera she heard on her radio set the stage for four decades as a music writer for the Associated Press, has died in Bloomington, Ind. She was 78.
From symphony to rock ’n’ roll, from Duke Ellington to Beverly Sills to the Dixie Chicks, she covered the entertainment scene, earning respect from the artists she wrote about and devotion from the public who followed her profiles and reviews.
‘‘Mary Campbell is a most admired reporter, not only because she writes so well but also because she knows an interesting story when she hears about it,’’ celebrated conductor-tenor Placido Domingo once said.
At a party for the folk trio Peter, Paul and Mary in the 1990s, Mary Travers politely greeted the many luminaries in attendance, but spent much of the evening huddled in a corner with Ms. Campbell, catching up with her old friend.
In one of her final articles, she interviewed Joe Cocker and asked him, ‘‘Do you still make jerky movements onstage?’’
Yes, replied Cocker, ‘‘playing an imaginary piano and air guitar. That was the frustration of not being able to play, really.’’
Ms. Campbell couldn’t play a musical instrument, either, nor could she carry a tune. It didn’t matter to her. She loved her role in the audience, reporting for other music lovers.
‘‘I write for an ordinary person like me,’’ she once said. ‘‘I’m not trying to be erudite, I’m trying to be enthusiastic and clear. I always feel like the person I’m writing for would be just as touched by the music or the play as I am if they were standing in my shoes.’’
She was born in Mount Sterling, Ill., in 1934.
In retirement, she returned to her midwest roots.
Others thought that she might miss the concerts and plays. But she was not worried.
“As long as I can listen to the music,” she said, “I’ll never be bored.”