Marko Syrjala of Metal Rules recently conducted an interview with DEF LEPPARD and LAST IN LINE guitarist Vivian Campbell. An excerpt from the chat follows below.
Metal Rules: There’s been a lot of badmouthing and press between LAST IN LINE and DIO DISCIPLES members during the past few years. Was all of that necessary to do and say out loud?
Vivian: “No, it never is.”
Metal Rules: So, do you think that someday you could burn the hatchet, and work something together, to respect Ronnie‘s memory? Because both bands have members who had their own important part on the band’s history, and with Ronnie?
Vivian: “I don’t know. I mean, Ronnie is dead, and Ronnie‘s legacy is controlled by Wendy Dio. It was Wendy Dio that convinced Ronnie that the original [DIO] band didn’t matter. Ronnie knew better. That’s kind of where my problem with Ronnie was because I know that he knew how good the original DIO band was, and he allowed himself to be coerced by his estranged wife, who is his manager. She never saw the value in DIO, the band. She always just thought it was about Ronnie, and it didn’t matter who played drums or guitar or bass. I tend to think differently, and I know that Ronnie thought differently. There’s a certain magic when you get the right musicians and the right band together and especially when it’s a creative unit like we were. When we went into Sound City, to these studios in 1982 to do the ‘Holy Diver’ album, we had one song, it was ‘Holy Diver’. Ronnie had written ‘Holy Diver’, and he had half an idea for this song called ‘Don’t Talk To Strangers’, but he had nothing else, so we wrote the rest of that record with him. A lot of those songs are formerly SWEET SAVAGE [Vivian‘s pre-DIO band] songs that got rewritten, all riffs are mine, and Ronnie would say, ‘Well, boys, that SWEET SAVAGE song, how does that go?’ ‘Rainbow In The Dark’ was an old SWEET SAVAGE song, ‘Lady Marion’. It was the same on ‘The Last In Line’ album. We went into a rehearsal room and Jimmy [Bain, bass] would have a riff, I’d have a riff, or Vinny [Appice, drums] just play a beat, and we’d come up with something. We created it as a band, and that’s what made those records so fucking good. We were a great band. We had that hair-tingly chemistry; it was just so fucking tight. And the fact that Ronnie allowed himself to be talked to by somebody who knows nothing about music, fucking nothing, and she just said, ‘Well, Ozzy Osbourne, he gets whoever to play for him.’ You know what? Ozzy had a great guitar player in Randy Rhoads. He’s been very fortunate. He has a lot of really great players around him, but that’s a different kind of a thing. Ronnie knew how good the original band was, and yet he allowed it to be torn apart because of his ex-wife. That really hurt me and that is, as I said, he had promised us… Now, in fairness to Wendy, she was not in the room the first night that we played together in London. There was just four of us, Ronnie and Jimmy and Vinny and myself, and that’s when Ronnie made us that promise. So, I suspect that Ronnie never told Wendy, he never had the balls to stand up to her because she can be a very aggressive person and Ronnie, I think never could say to her after the fact, ‘I made those guys a promise. They are in this with me together.’ I don’t think he ever told her that and she never saw it that way. She was, like, ‘Just get rid of these guys. We can get the guy from ROUGH CUTT to play guitar. We can get Simon Wright to play better than Vinny.’ Nobody plays like Vinny Appice. Vinny Appice is the most inspiring rock drummer I have ever played with, and I’ve played with a fucking lot of them. He makes me a better guitar player. It’s things like that that made the original DIO band so fucking good. When I go on stage with Vinny Appice, I am 10% a better guitar player than I am with anyone else because he lifts me, he inspires me to play, and that’s part of the magic of the original DIO band. Jimmy being just fucking playing the big notes, he knew exactly where to lay the foundation, and Ronnie, of course, Ronnie was on top of it. There was just something very special about that band, and Ronnie knew it, and that was a problem I had with him that he allowed himself to walk away from that.”
Metal Rules: The whole thing what happened between you and the Dios, it’s not a new story, but it still sounds horrible. It was so unfair towards you and the other guys in the original band. It’s just terrible, and it’s hard to understand why someone behaves the way they did.
Vivian: “Money changes people. When something becomes very successful very quickly a lot of money flows in, and people in all sorts of situations will allow themselves to see things in a slightly different way as long as it keeps the money flowing, and that’s what happened to me. The DIO band, not us, but Ronnie and Wendy. They made millions and millions and millions of dollars in a very short space of time because of the success of the band. That’s fine, I don’t begrudge them that at all, but he made a promise to us that he didn’t keep. That’s what it was about. I don’t care about money. I care about the principles, and I always did. So that was my beef with Ronnie. Then, of course, I will accept responsibility for years later I said some very unfortunate and very unnecessary things about Ronnie in the press, and Ronnie said plenty of unnecessary and unfortunate and untrue things about me. It worked both ways, but we were both wrong to try and communicate in the social arena. We should have sat down and talked to each other. Knowing Ronnie the way I did, I feel that if I had bumped into him on the street, he would have been angry at first because that’s the kind of person he was. He would hold on to that anger, but then after ten minutes, when he was done ranting, he would have said, ‘Let’s go have a beer.’ We would have gone and sat and had a beer, and we would have made another record together.”
Read the entire interview at Metal Rules.
Formed in 2012, LAST IN LINE‘s original lineup featured Campbell, Appice and Bain alongside singer Andrew Freeman.
DIO DISCIPLES is made up of former members of DIO, along with former JUDAS PRIEST frontman Tim “Ripper” Owens and LYNCH MOB vocalist Oni Logan.