Vivian Campbell regrets the mudslinging between him and former bandmate Ronnie James Dio – and he’s aiming to reclaim ownership of Dio songs he wrote, but couldn’t even bring himself to listen to for many years.
The pair had a musically successful, but personally difficult, relationship in Dio between 1982 and 1986, when Campbell was fired. He went on to play with Whitesnake before replacing Steve Clark in Def Leppard in 1992.
When Dio died in 2010 the guitarist said he was “numb” to the news, partly because his mother had died the previous week. Since then he’s reformed the original Dio lineup with Vinny Appice, Claude Schnell and Jimmy Bain – who was arrested for drugs offences last week.
Campbell tells KRXO (via Blabbermouth): “It was a long time coming because that was a difficult point in my life, when I did those first three albums with Dio.
“It’s well documented that Ronnie and I had a very contentious personal relationship. It only worked on a musical level and not on a personal level.
“I was fired from the band, and for many, many years he and his ex-wife tried to portray it that I left the band, that I turned my back on them – and that actually wasn’t true.
“It was a bit of a mud-slinging match between Ronnie and I, and I regret a lot of the things I said about him. I’m sure if Ronnie was still alive, he would regret a lot of the things he said about me.
“But the fact is it was very difficult for me to even listen to those songs for decades. Enough time has passed where I’m able to go back and reflect upon that and actually take ownership of it again, and embrace it for what it was.”
Campbell has often said he remains proud of the songs he wrote as a member of Dio. Now he’s aiming to put a new sheen on them with replacement vocalist Andy Freeman fronting the band.
He says: “It’s the 30-year anniversary of Holy Diver next year, and it’s a good time to go back and embrace it again.
“The thing that Andy has going for him is that he doesn’t sound like Ronnie. He doesn’t have that tonality Ronnie does. I know that there a few singers out there that do. People said, ‘Why don’t you get this guy? He sounds just like Ronnie.’ But that’s kind of missing the point.
“I don’t want a Ronnie clone. I don’t want that to be the focal point of the band. I want it to be a celebration of the original band, the original albums and the original music.”