VIVIAN CAMPBELL On Working With RONNIE JAMES DIO: 'It Was Kind Of Like Being In A Band With Your Stepdad'
December 3, 2017
DEF LEPPARD and LAST IN LINE guitarist Vivian Campbell was interviewed by U105's "The Breakfast Show With Maurice Jay" last month about receiving this year's Oh Yeah Legend Award, which recognizes the exceptional contribution of a musician or music industry figure from Northern Ireland. You can now watch the chat below.
Asked what it was like to work with Ronnie James Dio in the original incarnation of the DIO band in the early 1980s, Vivian said: "It was very surreal. It was strange. I mean, musically, it was great; it was very dynamic. But I always felt very uncomfortable around Ronnie, because I was a fan — I was a huge fan. It was kind of like being in a band with your stepdad, in a way, because he was very protective of me. And trying to protect me from Los Angeles in the 1980s, you can imagine what was going on. [Laughs] And I appreciated that.
"We had a very strange relationship, but it really was like being in a band with your step parent, 'cause he was just about old enough to be my dad," Vivian continued. "And I had so much respect for him professionally. I was literally listening to [BLACK SABBATH's] 'Mob Rules' and [RAINBOW's] 'Rainbow Rising' and 'Long Live Rock 'N' Roll', all that stuff, and then the phone rings, and it's Dio. So it was bizarre; it really was."
Campbell and Ronnie James Dio worked together on the first three DIO albums — 1983's "Holy Diver", 1984's "The Last in Line" and 1985's "Sacred Heart" — before the guitarist left to join WHITESNAKE in 1987. Vivian later publicly took issue with Ronnie's need for total control of the band, claiming that finances played a major part in the bad blood that preceded the split.
"The DIO thing, it was three albums, three tours," Vivian told "The Breakfast Show With Maurice Jay". The business side of it didn't work out too well." However, according to Campbell, "It wasn't about money; it was about principle. I'm very big on principle. I believe when somebody shakes your hand and looks you in the eye and you make an agreement, you have an agreement. And when people start reneging on agreements, I have an issue with that. I'm very big on principle."
Even though the rest of Vivian's bandmates in DIO agreed with the guitarist, he was the only one that spoke up, eventually resulting in his dismissal from the group.
"I was a squeaky wheel, because I wasn't married, I didn't have a mortgage, I had nothing to lose," Campbell said. "I'm thinking, 'Hey, a deal's a deal. What's happening here?' So it was easy for them to just get rid of me. But it is what it is. That's water under the bridge, as they say."
Campbell, drummer Vinny Appice and bassist Jimmy Bain were part of the original DIO lineup, which reunited in 2012 alongside singer Andrew Freeman to form LAST IN LINE.
When LAST IN LINE formed, the intent was to celebrate Ronnie James Dio's early work by reuniting the members of the original DIO lineup. After playing shows that featured a setlist composed exclusively of material from the first three DIO albums, the band decided to move forward and create new music in a similar vein.
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