WENDY DIO Explains Why She Wanted To Detail RONNIE JAMES DIO's Fallout With VIVIAN CAMPBELL In Singer's Autobiography

August 6, 2021

Wendy Dio says that she doesn't think there ever would have been a reconciliation between Ronnie James Dio and Vivian Campbell if the legendary heavy metal singer was still alive.

Ronnie, Vivian, drummer Vinny Appice and bassist Jimmy Bain collaborated on the first three DIO albums — 1983's "Holy Diver", 1984's "The Last In Line" and 1985's "Sacred Heart" — before Irishman Campbell 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 his exit. Specifically, Campbell said that "it had become increasingly clear" to him that "Wendy (as Ronnie's manager) was determined to separate Ronnie from the band. She didn't see DIO as one creative unit. Ronnie knew better, but I suspect that in an effort to win back Wendy's love" after the couple split, "he was willing to bend to her whims. Thus began the beginning of the end for the original DIO band."

Asked in a new interview with Ultimate Classic Rock if it was important for her to detail Ronnie's falling out with Vivian in the singer's just-released memoir, "Rainbow In The Dark: The Autobiography", which she, along with writer Mick Wall, completed after Ronnie's death, Wendy said: "I wanted to, because I am so sick to death of hearing Vivian saying things like, 'Ronnie paid me a hundred dollars a week.' Well, how did he buy a Ferrari with a hundred dollars a week? Ronnie was always fair to his people. It costs a lot of money to put that show on. All of the time, we paid for everything — buses, trucks, hotels, per diems, lighting, sound and everything else. I think he treated the band very fairly. The problem is Vivian, for some reason, decided he wanted to be Ronnie. Well, you know, the band was called DIO. But the fact was that Ronnie had already been in RAINBOW and paid his dues and then in BLACK SABBATH and paid his dues. He wasn't just off the street and a nobody. I got really upset. I get really upset when I hear him saying all of the things about Ronnie. Ronnie isn't here to defend himself. I will. I have all of the paperwork to prove that. How much he did get paid. That just kind of upsets me that people will say, 'Oh, Ronnie was cheap.' Well, Ronnie was never ever cheap at all."

Asked if she thinks there would have been a chance to build any sort of bridge between Ronnie and Vivian, Wendy said: "No. I don't think so, because there was too many nasty things by both of them said in the press, and I think you can't undo those things."

Campbell, Appice and Bain 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.

In a 2019 interview with Ultimate Guitar, Vivian spoke about the financial dispute that led to his exit from DIO. He said: "When the band was first formed, Ronnie told Vinny and Jimmy and myself that for the first three records, if we were willing to not be participants in the album sales or the tour receipts or the merchandise money or anything like that, if we were willing to work a very modest wage, that by the third album he would make it an equity situation and we would get part of the record and part of the tour, etc. So we worked for less than the road crew. We did the [1983] 'Holy Diver' album, we got paid $100 a week. When we started the 'Holy Diver' tour, our pay was bumped up to $400 a week. And so on over the years, over the 'Holy Diver' tour and [1984's] 'The Last In Line' tour and the [1985's] 'Sacred Heart' tour, our wages were gradually increased from tour to tour. But we were getting paid less than our lighting designer, for example. But we were also writing the songs with Ronnie; we were part of the creative process. But we got none of the record sales, we got none of the merchandise money and none of the concert money. We were okay with that because Ronnie had promised us that by the third album, that would all change. We were all working towards this goal and the band was becoming more and more successful. When the third album came along, I was the first one to say to Ronnie, to remind him of the promise that he made us back in 1982 when the band was formed, before we did the 'Holy Diver' record. I brought it up to Ronnie when we were recording the third album, 'Sacred Heart', and Ronnie said, 'Let's get through the record first and then we'll discuss it.' So I waited until the record was done and then I brought it up again. And Ronnie said, 'Let's get on the road and get rehearsed and as soon as the tour starts we can discuss it with Wendy.' Wendy was his ex-wife and manager of the band.

"You know, with benefit of hindsight, I see it very clearly now. It really came down to this — there were only four people in the room when Ronnie made that promise, and that was Ronnie and Jimmy and Vinny and myself. Wendy Dio wasn't in the room, and Ronnie really never stood up to his ex-wife and he never had the courage to tell her that he had made this promise to us. And she never saw the value in the original band. She was creatively shortsighted that she could only see that with Ronnie. She didn't see value in who played on stage with Ronnie or who wrote songs with Ronnie. She just thought that everyone could be replaced, whereas I think Ronnie really realized the chemistry that the original band had and he really valued that. But when it came down to it, he didn't have the courage to stand up to Wendy and he figured that it was easier to just get rid of me. And that's what he did.

"People can say it's about money," he continued. "And yes, in black-and-white terms, it is about money. But more importantly to me is that it was about principle. I believe strongly in principle, I always have. I believe in integrity in people and when I look someone in the eye and I shake their hand and I make a deal with them, I will uphold my end of the deal and I expect the same of other people. And Ronnie didn't do that for me. That's why I was fired from the band and it left such a bad taste in my mouth for so, so many years. I was so hurt by the whole process that after that, I did make a mistake of saying very hurtful things about Ronnie in the press, as indeed he said the same about me. I think that was a mistake for both of us to do that. But it was a very painful thing for me because I never wanted to leave that band. I was fully invested in it, I enjoyed it immensely, I believed in it, and I gave blood, sweat, and tears on everything over the course of three albums to build that band. And then to be unceremoniously dumped like that was very, very painful for me. So it took me a long time to come full circle. To be honest, I think it also took Ronnie's passing [in 2010] to be able to look at that in a different light and realize that it was as much Jimmy Bain's heritage and Vinny Appice's heritage and my heritage as it was Ronnie's — we all owned those records and that history. So now I've come to fully embrace it, whereas for many, many years it was too painful for me to listen to it. If it came on the radio, I would turn the radio off. I didn't own any of the records, I wanted nothing to do with it. And now I see it in an entirely different light. I realize that we owned it as much as Ronnie and that it's a joyous thing to embrace. It makes me incredibly happy to be on the stage with Vinny, and with Jimmy while he was alive, and to play that music again. It's something I'm very proud of. But it took me a long time to get here, and that's the reason why."

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."

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