VIVIAN CAMPBELL Regrets Never Getting The Opportunity To Make Amends With RONNIE JAMES DIO

May 9, 2022

DEF LEPPARD guitarist Vivian Campbell, who had an acrimonious split with Ronnie James Dio in the mid-1980s when the two worked together in the first incarnation of Dio's solo band, was asked in a new interview with Greg Prato of if he thinks there was ever any possibility of him and Ronnie getting back together or talking after he left the band. He responded: "I'd like to clarify — I was fired from DIO. I did not leave DIO. And that's a bit of an urban myth, because all these decades after, a lot of people are under that misconception thinking that I left the band. I never wanted to leave DIO. I was fired in the middle of a tour. But I was a squeaky wheel. I was the one who was trying to get Ronnie to uphold his promises and be true to his words, and it didn't work out. So, I don't think there was ever any chance that we were gonna work together again.

"Ronnie's wife, Wendy, right up until the day he died, she was his manager — and she never saw me as being of any value to Ronnie. She always thought I was just a guitar player and I was easily replaceable. I think Ronnie knew a little better. So, I think if Ronnie and I had met each other without Wendy, and we'd gone to the pub and we'd had a pint of beer and talked through our differences, yeah, I think we could have worked together again and it would have been great. But as long as Wendy was controlling his career, that was never going to happen."

Asked if he regrets never getting the opportunity to make amends with Ronnie before his passing, Vivian said: "Yeah. Y'know, we both said ugly things about each other in the media — which is never a good idea. But you get goaded into these things. And everyone makes these mistakes. That was unfortunate. But Ronnie was a complicated guy — like everyone. When people ask me, 'What's so-and-so like?', it's hard to summarize the human experience in a couple of sentences. I mean, we're all complicated beings — we have good days and we have bad days. We have good attributes from our personalities and we have negative ones. And Ronnie was complicated. We had days when he and I got along really well, and there were days where I thought he was a total asshole…and I'm sure he thought exactly the same about me. But the one thing that we did good together was we could make music together. I always found it a very strained relationship because of…and I will own most of the responsibility for that, because I was very bashful around Ronnie. Because I was 20 years old and I'd been listening to Ronnie in RAINBOW and [BLACK] SABBATH for years before I ended up being in a band with them, and finding myself in the studio in L.A., and just in this whole surreal, very different environment that I'd known before. And being in a band with this guy whose albums I'd been listening to since I was about thirteen years old. So, I just had this strange sort of deference towards him — where he was a rock star, in my opinion. Plus, he was so much older than me. You almost wanted to call him 'Mr. Dio.' I didn't, but I kind of felt like it. Like, I probably should be more respectful in that regard. So, it was a little bit strange to have that sort of relationship. I never felt quite comfortable around him. The only time I did was when we were playing music."

In a May 2011 interview with Brazil's Roadie Crew magazine, Wendy stated about the controversy surrounding Ronnie's relationship with Campbell (in 2003, Vivian called Ronnie "an awful businessman and, way more importantly, one of the vilest people in the industry."): "[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."

A video clip of Ronnie James Dio calling Campbell "a fucking asshole" and saying that "I hope he fucking dies" in reference to his former bandmate was posted on YouTube in October 2007. The two-minute clip was shot on March 30, 2007 while Ronnie was signing autographs for fans after HEAVEN & HELL's show at the Radio City Music Hall in New York City. "He's a piece of shit," Dio said. "You ever heard the things he ever said about me? He called me the most despicable human being that ever lived. I went, 'I thought I gave you a chance and made you somebody. And now you're playing with who? DEF fucking who?' There's a fucking rock band for you to fucking have diarrhea with."

Campbell and fellow original DIO members Vinny Appice (drums) and Jimmy Bain (bass) reunited in 2012 alongside singer Andrew Freeman to form LAST IN LINE. The band's initial 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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