Vivian Campbell: Those Are My Songs as Much as They Are Dio’s
Vivian Campbell‘s long-running feud with Ronnie James Dio has left some fans crying foul over Campbell’s decision to revisit their work together, but he has strong words for anyone who thinks he doesn’t have a right to play those songs.
Campbell joined Dio while the band was prepping 1983’s hit ‘Holy Diver’ album and remained for 1984’s ‘The Last in Line’ and 1985’s ‘Sacred Heart,’ before quitting in an acrimonious split. The bitterness lingered for decades. But recently Campbell has regrouped with his former Dio bandmates as Last in Line, recreating their old songs in a series of live performances — a decision that’s been called into question by some who feel Last in Line are taking advantage of Dio’s legacy following frontman Ronnie James Dio’s 2010 death.
During a recent interview with Rock Guitar Daily, Campbell responded to the controversy, saying, “We wrote and recorded those songs, and we’d like to play them! That’s what it comes down to — the only issue being that Ronnie and I had a public spat.”
Campbell then proceeded to go more in-depth regarding his split from Dio, alleging that he and his bandmates were paid “less than the crew” during his years in the group, and that he was not only fired after trying to negotiate fairer compensation but portrayed as the bad guy in the breakup. “After 30 years, and maybe it is because Ronnie’s dead, maybe that does make it easier, I don’t know — I haven’t sat down and analyzed it,” insisted Campbell, “but the fact is that’s my music, I’m the one who’s entitled to play it and that’s what I’m going to do.”
Bad blood aside, what annoys Campbell now are accusations that he’s playing the old music just for the money. “I’m not doing this for the money, believe me, I’ve got plenty of money,” he argued. “It’s about the love, the passion for the guitar playing. When I did it in the first place, I didn’t do it for the f—ing money — $100 a week, I don’t think that’s a lot of money, and that’s what I got for doing ‘Holy Diver.’ And that’s pretty much what I’ll get for doing it again, 30 years later.”
Ultimately, says Campbell, “The thing that Dio fans may not completely understand is that they weren’t there when we wrote and recorded those records. Ronnie was a very difficult person to work with. He was a lovely human being to his fans, but he didn’t always share that wonderful personality with those closest to him. Every human being is complex; there’s no black-and-white, no cut-and-dried. I had a very difficult relationship with Ronnie, and he had a very difficult relationship with me … but a lot of water has gone under the bridge, and for me, I’ve taken all that out of the equation.”