On August 30, David Kelso, a DJ for 107.7 FM, KRXO, in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, conducted an interview with former DIO and current DEF LEPPARD guitarist Vivian Campbell. You can now listen to the chat using the audio player below.
Asked what it has been like for him to revisit the DIO material with his new band featuring original DIO members Vinny Appice (drums), Jimmy Bain (bass) and Claude Schnell (keyboards) along with singer Andy Freeman, Vivian said, “The thing that Andy has going for him is that he doesn’t sound like Ronnie [James Dio], he doesn’t have that tonality Ronnie does, and I know that there a few singers out there that do. A lot of people said, ‘Why don’t you get this guy? He sounds just like Ronnie. And this guy sounds exactly 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 and the original albums and just the original music. Andy brings his own thing to it; he puts his own spin on it. He’s a great, great singer who does justice to the songs, but he doesn’t try to clone Ronnie. Like I said, I want the focus to be about the original band and the original songs.
He continued, “It was a long time coming, because for me, that was a difficult point in my life, when I did those first three albums with DIO. It was well documented that Ronnie and I had a very contentious personal relationship; our relationship only worked on a musical level and not on a personal level. So it was difficult.
“We all contributed [to the songwriting in DIO]. I wrote a lot of those songs and a lot of people tend to forget that.
“I was fired from the band, and for many, many years and his ex-wife, Wendy Dio, 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, and 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. I mean, they were great records, I’m proud of them, I’m very proud of my input to them, I’m very proud of the songs I wrote and the way I played back then. I meet people that come up to me and say, ‘Man, that solo in ‘Rainbow In The Dark’,’ and so on and so forth. It means so much to people. So I just [thought] now is a good time… It’s the 30-year anniversary of ‘Holy Diver’ next year, and it’s a good time to go back and embrace it again.”
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.
Speaking to Rush On Rock in January 2011, Campbell had this to say about the passing of the iconic singer: “I was numb to the whole thing. I hadn’t talked to Ronnie in 25 years, so it wasn’t as if we were close. My mother died nine or 10 days before him, so I was preoccupied with that. And my father died nine months before that. It was a really tough year on a personal level, and I had enough to think about.”
He added, “The news about Ronnie James Dio just bounced off me. It was a difficult relationship on a personal level anyway. I was really proud of the music we made together but it was tough being in a band together. But he died way too young.”
In a May 2011 interview with Brazil’s Roadie Crew magazine, Ronnie’s wife and manager 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.”