1962 – Born on this day, Vivian Campbell, Guitarist, Dio, Whitesnake, Def Leppard.
Vivian Patrick Campbell (born 25 August 1962) is a rock guitarist who is a member of Def Leppard; and as of May 2010, a member of Thin Lizzy. Prior to joining the band in April 1992, he had been a member of the Irish rock band Sweet Savage, and other bands, including Dio, Trinity, Whitesnake, Riverdogs, and Shadow King.
Youth and early career
Campbell was born in Belfast, County Antrim, Northern Ireland and attended Rathmore Grammar School. He began playing guitar at the age of 12. He has played for Sweet Savage, Dio, Trinity, Whitesnake, Riverdogs, and Shadow King. He also played on Lou Gramm’s (from Foreigner) second solo album Long Hard Look.
Sweet Savage was a NWOBHM band that Campbell joined when he was 15. The band members in Sweet Savage included Campbell on guitar, Trev Fleming on guitar, David Bates on drums and Ray Haller on bass and vocals. The band influenced Metallica, who covered the song Killing Time on their Garage Inc. covers album. In 1980 when Campbell was 18. In 1981 they released an e.p. consisting of four BBC radio sessions and their first single “Take No Prisoners”. “Take No Prisoners” included the song “Killing Time”. Much later in the late 90’s after Metallica covered “Killing Time”, there was interest in Sweet Savage and they released an album without him. Campbell left Sweet Savage in early 1983 to join Dio, after the band’s original guitarist Jake E. Lee left.
Campbell live in 2007 at the ND State FairWhen Campbell joined Dio, Ronnie James Dio had three songs that he had written while Lee was in the band, “Stand Up And Shout”, “Don’t Talk To Strangers” and “Holy Diver”. All of these songs appeared on the album. Former Rainbow bassist Jimmy Bain joined, completing the first line up. The album was a success and included Dio’s biggest hit, “Rainbow in the Dark”. A concert video, called In Concert, from this tour was released. The band also played at The Monsters Of Rock festival in 1983.
Dio returned to the studio to write and record the follow up to Holy Diver. This album was called The Last in Line and charted at #23 in the US. “The Last in Line”, “We Rock” and “Mystery” all became radio hits. A concert video from this tour called A Special From The Spectrum was released.
The follow Sacred Heart was also a success, and managed to peak at #29 in the U.S. It featured the hits “Rock N Roll Children” and “Hungry For Heaven”, the second of which was also included on the soundtrack to the film Vision Quest. Also around this time the band recorded the song “Hide In The Rainbow” for the Iron Eagle soundtrack, the last song Campbell would record with Dio. A live EP Intermission was also released. Craig Goldy played on the disc’s only studio song “Time to Burn” and over-dubbed the rhythm parts on the live tracks. During the tour, Dio fired Campbell in 1986 and he joined Whitesnake. He was replaced by Goldy.
In 1987, Campbell joined the British hard rock band Whitesnake. Ex-Thin Lizzy and Tygers of Pan Tang (Spellbound and Crazy Nights albums only) guitarist John Sykes wrote, played the lead and rhythm parts on the multi-platinum selling album simply titled Whitesnake, but he was fired by lead singer David Coverdale after the recording of the album, and Campbell replaced him for the subsequent world tour. Campbell was part of the new, glammed-up Whitesnake Coverdale had put together to conquer MTV and American audiences, also including Adrian Vandenberg, formerly of Teaser and Vandenberg, Tommy Aldridge of Ozzy Osbourne and Black Oak Arkansas fame, and Rudy Sarzo, having already become hugely successful playing with Ozzy Osbourne and Quiet Riot. Campbell was fired after the 1987-1988 World Tour, because of “negative attitude”.
In 1992, Campbell joined the rock band Def Leppard, after the release of their Adrenalize album. He replaced Steve Clark, who died on 8 January 1991. According to fellow guitarist Phil Collen, Campbell was able to lock right into the position very naturally by simply being himself. Campbell made his debut with the band by playing a show in a Dublin club to approximately 600 people. A week later, 20 April 1992, the band took the stage at the Freddie Mercury Concert for Life, with their new guitarist. They performed, “Animal,” “Let’s Get Rocked,” and the Queen classic, “Now I’m Here”, with Brian May. He has spent the last 18 years with the band.
Aside from his work with Def Leppard, Campbell has played on the side with Clock and Riverdogs. In 2005, he also released a solo album called Two Sides Of If, which features cover versions of his favourite blues tunes and one original blues song. It features two of Rory Gallagher’s well known songs, “Messin’ with the Kid” and “Calling Card”. It also features ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons guest appearing on the songs “Like It This Way” and “Willin’ For Satisfaction”, and Joan Osborne guest appearing on the song “Spoonful”. The album also features drummer Terry Bozzio.
In May 2010, it was announced that Campbell would be joining Scott Gorham and other musicians in a new, reformed version of Thin Lizzy.
Campbell currently resides in Southern California and has two daughters named Lily Rose and Una Marigold. He also plays football regularly with Hollywood United F.C. The team is composed mostly of celebrities and former professional footballers.
When he first started playing, Campbell employed a Les Paul with DiMarzio pickups. This guitar was also used on Holy Diver, as can be seen in the booklet pictures. At this point, the “superstrat” fashion was taking place and consequently Campbell switched to a Jackson Soloist. Around the same time, he can be seen in an instructional video playing a blue B.C. Rich ST, which was first produced around 1986 or 1987. When he joined Whitesnake, Vivian picked up a pink, red and yellow Rand, a 27-fret, high-end guitar handmade by Rand Havener, a former B.C. Rich employee whom he had met through a common friend. This guitar featured innovative scuplted wings, almost no neck heel due to a very accurate neck-through construction, a pointy, very droopy headstock, Pau Ferro (brazilian rosewood) fretboard, custom inlays, a Floyd Rose bridge and two Tom Anderson custom pickups. This very instrument can be seen in the “Still Of The Night” video. Another Rand, yet with different colors, was used for the “Is This Love” music video. During the same period (1987–1988), Vivian had Dallas area luthier Buddy Blaze make him a custom guitar. This instrument, named the “Shredder”, had a Strat shaped, mahogany body with polka dot graphic, a 24 fret neck with “ping pong” inlays (going from top to bottom up to the 12th fret and vice versa up to the 24th fret)on the ebony fretboard, a reverse pointy headstock and two Seymour Duncan humbucker pickups, a Full Shred in the bridge position and a JB in the middle position. The bridge was a Floyd Rose. A deal was then set up between Buddy Blaze and Kramer Guitars and the Shredder went into production under the “Nightswan” name. Vivian signed with Kramer as an endorser and there are a few ads of him with this guitar. He played the original Shredder through Whitesnake’s 1987-1988 world tour. After he left Whitesnake, Campbell initially played a custom made Tom Anderson Strat style guitar in The Riverdogs and Shadow King. When he joined Def Leppard Campbell had more custom Andersons built which he used throughout the Adrenalize tour. During the recording of Slang switched back to Les Pauls and currently plays Gibson guitars.
With Sweet Savage
“Take No Prisoners”/”Killing Time” (1981)
Holy Diver (1983)
The Last in Line (1984)
Sacred Heart (1985)
The Dio E.P. (1986)
With Lou Gramm solo
Long Hard Look (1989)
With Shadow King
Shadow King (1991)
With Def Leppard
Retro Active (1993)
Vault: Def Leppard’s Greatest Hits (1980-1995) (1995)
Best of Def Leppard (2004)
Rock of Ages: The Definitive Collection (2005)
Songs from the Sparkle Lounge (2008)
Through Time (1998)
Two Sides Of If (2005)