ADRIAN VANDENBERG: 'I Had Nothing To Do With' VIVIAN CAMPBELL Getting Fired From WHITESNAKE
September 19, 2023
In a new interview with Real Music With Gary Stuckey, former WHITESNAKE guitarist Adrian Vandenberg reflected on the firing of guitarist Vivian Campbell, who was in WHITESNAKE in 1987 and 1988. Asked if it's true that Campbell was dismissed from the band because Adrian didn't want to have two guitarists in WHITESNAKE, Adrian responded (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): "Well, no. I don't know where that myth came from, because I always knew that WHITESNAKE was a two-guitar band. I think that comes from Vivian. Vivian was not a very happy camper and in WHITESNAKE. So that had a lot to do with the fact that David [Coverdale, WHITESNAKE leader] stopped working with Vivian. But the main reason was that Vivian's wife was a pain in the ass to everybody — to the sound guy, to the light guy, to the management, to everything; it was getting really complicated. And Vivian didn't like it, apparently, that David couldn't find… The songs that Vivian suggested, David didn't think they were suitable for WHITESNAKE. So in the end, it didn't work out. And I heard from various fans at the time that Vivian thought I had something to do with David not wanting to keep working with Vivian. I had nothing to do with it. I heard it from the tour manager that they sent Vivian home. I didn't know. I thought I got along fine with Vivian. I didn't know."
Asked if he has had a chance to talk to Vivian since and straighten everything out, Adrian said: "Well, unfortunately not. I hope at some point I can, because it's a long time ago, of course. But still it kind of bothered me that he thought that I had anything to do with it, because he ventilated that in a couple of interviews, apparently. But time heals all wounds. He's got a great gig with DEF LEPPARD, so I don't think he's complaining, driving around his Ferraris."
Adrian previously talked about Vivian's departure from WHITESNAKE in a 2021 interview with Full In Bloom. At the time, he said: "I've read a couple of interviews with Vivian years ago where he was kind of saying, 'Well, Adrian didn't want me in the band,' but I wasn't — because as far as I know, we had a great working relationship. And I got with him fine on the road. We'd do it for a year and a half, and I'd hang out with Vivian regularly. But David didn't want to keep working with Vivian because there was some problems with Vivian's wife at the time — and now he's divorced. David wanted to write the songs with me, and not with Vivian, so I can understand that Vivian wasn't too happy about that, but in the end, it's David's band and he calls the shots. I've always had my own band, and everybody knows it's David's band, and I was just happy to be David's right-hand man, so to speak."
Asked if there was any tension during that tour that ever surfaced, Adrian said: "Not when we were on the road. I can't remember any tension. I remember that once we started rehearsing initially on 'Slip Of The Tongue', the first couple of rehearsals, Vivian was there, and he was just really moody because David wanted to work with me as far as songs. Vivian was not really happy, and the thing goes, the important reason that David decided he didn't want to work in that atmosphere. But on the road, for me, everything was great. We were in a bus, all together, we always had a lot of laughs, and I only have great memories of that tour, and everybody got on great together. It was quite unusual. If you live together for a year and a half, that's very unusual that you have such a great vibe in the band, and I was under the impression always that it was the case for Vivian, but I can imagine it must've been frustrating for him when we started rehearsing 'Slip Of The Tongue' songs that he didn't have any songs in there. Obviously, he wasn't used to that, because in DIO he was the guy, so I don't know. I'm like a hardcore optimist, and I always try to avoid negative vibes, and sometimes I don't even notice them if they're there. Apparently, they were, because David picked up on it."
Back in 2015, Campbell told RockPages that he cleared the air with Coverdale before joining the singer on stage on the final show of WHITESNAKE and DEF LEPPARD's December 2015 U.K. tour. Asked about his relationship with Coverdale, Campbell said: "It's good. It was strange for a few years.
"Adrian didn't want another guitar player in the band," Vivian continued. "It was nothing against me. When he was hired, they didn't tell him there would be two guitar players. There was a certain rivalry in the air. When the tour ended, David said to us all that the songs on the new record would be written by Adrian and himself, because they had a great working relationship. I knew deep inside that this wasn't a band I would last in for too long."
Tensions between Vivian and David reached a boiling point after Coverdale had his tour manager tell Campbell that his wife wasn't welcome on the road, because she and the frontman's wife didn't get along.
"That's the problem I had with David — I always thought he didn't have the balls to look me in the eyes and say what he wanted to say," Vivian said. "Even when he wanted to let me go, he asked the tour manager to break the news."
Vivian said that he and David talked everything out when DEF LEPPARD and WHITESNAKE first toured together 15 years ago. "I had the chance to sit down with him and explain that he'd lost my respect when he did that in the '80s," the guitarist said. "David was very apologetic, and pointed out that he was in this bad relationship, living in an ivory tower, having people do things instead of doing those things by himself."
He added: "All this belongs in the past. We are all good now."
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