Vivian Campbell has a pretty wild month ahead of him.
He hits the road with Dio offshoot Last in Line in support of their latest album, II, but there’s a week break shortly after the start of the tour. Why? So he can head to New York to join Def Leppard for the 2019 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony.
Campbell joined Def Leppard in 1992 shortly after the passing of guitarist Steve Clark. In a recent conversation on Talkin’ Rock with Meltdown, Campbell said he was a big fan of the band before joining but was frustrated by the lack of recognition they received, particularly for 1987’s Hysteria. This has lead to complicated, but appreciative feelings about his pending Rock Hall induction:
“Not only did Def Leppard not win any Grammys [for ‘Hysteria’], but Leppard didn’t even get nominated for any Grammys for what is an absolute landmark record. So, that kind of framed how I feel about industry awards. I don’t always feel they go where they belong.
Having said that, here we are getting into the Hall of Fame. It’s not something we take for granted. Like I said, we’re very grateful for this. Very honored by it. It does feel very ‘grown up,’ I gotta say. But I think it’s something that my bandmates deserve. Not sure if I deserve it, but they certainly do. I’ll be sure on the night as I no doubt Joe [Elliott], [Rick] Sav[age], Phil [Collen] and Rick [Allen] will also be sure to be mentioning Steve Clark’s name as many times as possible. We’re also hopeful [founding member/guitarist] Pete Willis will show up...So, all in all, I think it’s a good night for Leppard.
The one thing we’ll never lose sight of and we’re particularly impressed and pleased by is the fact that we won the biggest ever popular [fan] vote. That really speaks a load about our fans, and that’s always been our focus.”
Right now, Campbell’s focus is on Last in Line, which sees him embracing the Dio catalog once again. Campbell and Ronnie James Dio were not on speaking terms when Dio passed away in 2010, but Campbell thinks if certain things were different that he and Dio would’ve been able to reconcile:
“The way everything went down and the way everything was portrayed in the press afterwards left a very, very uncomfortable taste in my mouth. I wanted nothing to do with Dio, with the legacy of the music...I do feel Ronnie and I, had the gatekeepers gotten out of the way, I do think if we bumped into each other on the street, we eventually would’ve made up.
...When I was in the band with Ronnie, I feel like he was very, very proud of me. When I first came to L.A. and we were doing the ‘Holy Diver’ record, he kind of looked at me like his Randy Rhodes, if you want...He had kind of this fatherly attitude towards me, and that was kind of hard. It was a bit like being in a band with your stepdad...I was always very uncomfortable around Ronnie, because I was a fan...I never felt like I had a proper relationship with Ronnie because of that and because of my own discomfort and unease of being around these people who I felt were icons to me.
...Unfortunately, again, getting back to the industry gatekeepers, more to the point, I don’t think I’d ever been fired from the band without the influence of those people. I think Ronnie and I connected on a level that was very, very beneficial musically. I know Ronnie knew the value of that, and that’s maybe why I was particularly angry when I was fired, because I think he knew what he was doing when he threw that away, when he threw away the magic of the original band, because I think he was afraid of going against the industry people that were advising him at the time.
...But having said that, I think if we would have met each other and whatnot, we would’ve had a beer and kissed and made up and maybe made some more great music together.”
A complete list of Last in Line tour dates can be found at LastInLineOfficial.com. The 2019 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony takes place March 29 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y. An edited telecast will air on HBO at a later date.
This interview can be heard in its entirety below.
Def Leppard guitarist Vivian Campbell joins Meltdown to talk about the RNR Hall Of Fame, his days with Dio and more.
Erica Banas is rock/classic rock news blogger that loves the smell of old vinyl in the morning.