VIVIAN CAMPBELL On Strained Relationship With RONNIE JAMES DIO: 'We Both Made The Mistake Of Going After Each Other Through The Media'

July 15, 2018

Clint Switzer of the "Music Mania" podcast recently conducted an interview with DEF LEPPARD and LAST IN LINE guitarist Vivian Campbell. You can listen to the entire chat below. A few excerpts follow (transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET).

On DEF LEPPARD's current co-headlining North American tour with JOURNEY:

Vivian: "It's incredible, actually. It's a really good fit. It's only the second time we toured with JOURNEY; the first time was 12 years ago, 2006. Like LEPPARD, JOURNEY just has a real depth of catalog, so many hit songs. It makes for a great show. We're co-headlining, so we're flipping back and forth. One night we'll open, one night we'll close, so on and so forth. Both bands play an equal set length every night. We've really kind of upped the ante on the production this year for LEPPARD. We always try and have a lot of bells and whistles in our show. We really kind of put a really special show together for this tour. It's been a lot of fun."

On what made DEF LEPPARD want to tour with JOURNEY again:

Vivian: "Well, the JOURNEY tour we did 12 years ago was a huge success. We played to a lot of people and we kept adding more and more shows to the tour. It was one of the bigger ones we've done. As I said, this is only the second time we've toured with them and, you know, we're literally running out of bands to tour with. There's not many bands of our generation left, when you think about it. So many of them have retired or thrown in the towel, but JOURNEY are right up there with LEPPARD because of the catalog of hit songs. It really is one of those evenings where one and one makes three. I think there's a lot of people who are fans of both bands and just fans of genuine hit songs, really more than anything else. They are of a certain quality and LEPPARD, I'd like to think we are too. [Laughs] It's a combination that works."

On finally making DEF LEPPARD's catalog available digitally:

Vivian: "It's been a long time coming. Our original deal, DEF LEPPARD's first record deal was signed in 1977 or something, '79, so the technology didn't exist back then. The contract was never up — it kind of rolled over from term to term and nobody ever addressed the issue. We were for many, many years at odds with our record company on how to distribute our catalog online and how we were supposed to get paid for it, but we couldn't come to an agreement until last year. January this year, the entire DEF LEPPARD catalog is available on all the major digital platforms. That's great for us. We're really pleased we were able to resolve that and get that out there."

On the status of LAST IN LINE's next studio album:

Vivian: "We've just finished recording the second album. It's going to be released in early 2019 and the reason we're holding off on the release is because I really want to tour with the band and the album and I'm on the road until December with DEF LEPPARD. I really want to wait until I can give it my full attention. It's a really great album. Having Phil [Soussan, bass] in the band has really elevated our songwriting to a large extent and also the natural progression of the band and writing with Andrew [Freeman, vocals] and getting to know each other a bit more. It sounds like a band's second album. It's a development. I'm very, very excited about it. As a guitar player, it's just been so much fun to get back to my roots that way and really get to exercise that muscle. I'm really, really pleased with my guitar playing on the record. It's nice to play some really angry tunes as well as the LEPPARD stuff. It's a win-win for me."

On whether LAST IN LINE gives him the opportunity to "make peace" with Ronnie James Dio:

Vivian: "Absolutely. Yeah, it's very cathartic for me to be able to do this. If Ronnie were alive, he'd approve. Then again, if Ronnie were still alive, I would have never done it. If there was a still a version of the DIO band out there playing, I would never put LAST IN LINE together. It just seemed that after Ronnie had passed away, it was a chance for me to reassess that situation. It was unfortunate that things ended the way they did with Ronnie. I'm sure, knowing Ronnie the way I knew him, I'm sure if we had met each other under the right circumstances, without other people around us, one night, we could of have sat down and had a beer and probably of made amends, hopefully. That was never to be. We both made the mistake of going after each other through the media, which is never a good idea. But you get sucked into these things. So, relationships are complicated. My relationship with Ronnie was always very complicated, even at the best of times. It didn't end well. One thing that really bugged me over the years was that everyone thinks that I left the DIO band, that I turned my back on it. I did turn my back on it, but only after I was fired. That's why I turned my back on it. It left such a bad taste in my mouth. I'd given so much to that band for those early albums and to Ronnie. All I wanted was to be paid at least more than the roadcrew. [Laughs] That was conflated into my wanting equal share with Ronnie, which is absolutely not true. It was such an ugly business and the way that I was slandered by the DIO camp and they said that I left the band. I actually did not. I was fired in the middle of a tour. It hurt me so much for so many years, I just wanted nothing to do with it. Only after Ronnie passed away and with the passage of so many years and perhaps my having cancer diagnosis as well and dealing with all that makes you reassess a lot of things in life. I was able to go back to that and realize that despite the hurt that was there from the way they treated me, it was still my heritage. I still created those songs and those albums with Ronnie and with Jimmy [Bain, bass] and Vinny [Appice, drums]. We all gave our heart and soul into that. It was very, very much a collaborative group effort. It's very, very much our heritage. It's much my heritage as it was Jimmy Bain's as it was Vinny Appice's as it was Ronnie's. It's nice to be able to get back that and see it in a whole different light and enjoy it."

Ronnie James Dio made headlines in 2007 when a clip of him surfaced calling Campbell "a fucking asshole" and "a piece of shit." Although Vivian has since expressed regret over referring to Dio as "one of the vilest people in the industry," the guitarist has consistently maintained that he was wronged by the now-deceased vocalist.

In a May 2011 interview with Brazil's Roadie Crew magazine, Dio's widow and manager Wendy stated about the controversy surrounding Ronnie's relationship with Campbell: "[Vivian] always said that he hated all the albums that he played on with Ronnie, and that was very hurtful to Ronnie. Very hurtful. Would you like someone who said something like that about your albums? He said a lot of things in the press that I don't wanna get into, because it really wasn't Ronnie's feud at all. Ronnie didn't fire him. I fired [Vivian]. He wanted as much money as Ronnie wanted. He thought he was as important as Ronnie was, and that was just wrong. But I don't wanna get into that. It's water under the bridge. It doesn't matter."

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