Former DIO and current DEF LEPPARD guitarist Vivian Campbell revealed last week that he is planning to join forces with three other original DIO members to play “some gigs” that will see the musicians performing material from the early DIO records that Campbell appeared on. Campbell, Vinny Appice (drums), Jimmy Bain (bass) and Claude Schnell (keyboards) will be accompanied by singer Andy Freeman, who has previously fronted HURRICANE and LYNCH MOB.
In a brand new posting on his Facebook page, Vivian writes, “Although there have been a couple of inarticulate naysayers, I’m happy that most of you are supportive of my plans to play with the original DIO band. However, in the meantime there’s DEF LEP business at hand as we’re gearing up for the summer tour. Rehearsals start in just over two weeks and the monkey is all fired up!”
Campbell and Ronnie James Dio worked together 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. Their subsequent relationship was strained, to say the least.
“In my opinion, Vivian no longer had the commitment to the band he had in the early days,” Ronnie said a short time before his death in May 2010. “He was — and remains — an excellent guitarist. I never lost sight of how good he was as a musician, but as a person… Well, he was no longer on the same page as the rest of us. That annoyed me hugely. When you’ve got four people really stretching and straining to do their very best, and one person who’s clearly holding back, it makes for an unhappy camp. A lot of negative things have been said since by both Vivian and me… Now, I regret some of those things. I’m sure he does, too.”
Speaking to U.K.’s Metal Hammer for the magazine’s May 2012 issue which features a six-page spotlight on DIO, Bain said about Campbell‘s exit from the group, “Viv did nothing that warranted his removal from the band in what is still considered to be a cowardly way. For me, firing Viv was the biggest mistake of Ronnie‘s career. The problem could’ve easily been resolved if there had a been a will to do so from Ronnie and Wendy [Dio, the band’s manager and Ronnie‘s wife].”
Vinny also regretted Vivian‘s departure although he was a little more diplomatic in his comments on the situation.
“Viv wasn’t happy with the business part of the band, and musically wanted to pursue something else,” Vinny said. “If he had been happy with the business end of it, he probably would’ve stayed and made a few more records with us. We had a successful, great band with Viv, and it was unfortunate to change ingredients.”
Bain also felt that DIO was in decline by the time the band released “Sacred Heart”.
“DIO should have gotten better with each album, but what happened was the opposite,” Jimmy told Metal Hammer. “The production was watered down with all the keyboards, [and] the songs were not as good because it became harder to satisfy Ronnie‘s need to complicate arrangement and structure.”
Bain, Campbell, Appice, Schnell and Freeman “had a couple of rehearsals” last week “and it sounds great,” the bassist said.
He added, “Listening to Vivian playing those songs again has been amazing. He’s just so into it doing this, and his enthusiasm has rubbed off on the rest of us.
“Andy isn’t Ronnie. How could he be? But what he does bring is his own twist on the vocals.”
“Our aim is to do some shows around November, concentrating on the first two DIO albums. It’s gonna be great getting back onstage with these guys for the first time in so long.”
In a May 2011 interview with Brazil’s Roadie Crew magazine, Wendy Dio stated about the controversy surrounding Ronnie‘s relationship with Campbell (in a 2003 interview 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.”
Original DIO lineup performing live in 1984: