Vivian Patrick Campbell (born 25 August 1962) is a Northern Irish rock guitarist who is a member of Def Leppard and was a member of Thin Lizzy from May 2010 to November 2011. Prior to joining Def Leppard in April 1992, he had been a member of Whitesnake, Sweet Savage, Trinity, Riverdogs, and Shadow King. He first rose to prominence in 1982 as the original guitarist of the band Dio.
Youth and early career
Campbell was born in Lisburn, 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" as a B-side for their "The Unforgiven" single. It was also included on Metallica's Garage Inc. covers album. 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 Jake E. Lee (the original Dio guitarist) was offered Randy Rhoads spot as Ozzy Osbourne's lead guitarist on December 1982, when Ronnie James Dio was forming his own band. Vivian Campbell later guested on Sweet Savage's cover of the Thin Lizzy song "Whiskey In The Jar".
When Campbell joined Dio, Ronnie James Dio, Vinny Appice, and former Rainbow bassist Jimmy Bain had most of the songs to the album Holy Diver already written including, "Don't Talk to Strangers (song)", "Holy Diver" and "Rainbow in the Dark". With the global search for a guitarist now concluded, this finalized the band's 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-up 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. Campbell and the band parted company in 1986 and he joined Whitesnake. He was replaced by Goldy.
However, Campbell had a feud with Dio. In 2003, Campbell said "[Playing in Dio] never mattered to me — and still doesn’t… He’s an incredible talent, but he’s an awful businessman and way more importantly, one of the vilest people in the industry." Campbell later stated that he regretted making this statement.
In 1987 Campbell joined the British hard rock band Whitesnake. Ex-Thin Lizzy and Tygers of Pan Tang guitarist John Sykes wrote and played the lead and rhythm parts on the multiplatinum-selling album simply titled Whitesnake but was fired by the band's leader, David Coverdale, after recording was completed. Campbell was recruited to replace Sykes in the new, glammed-up Whitesnake Coverdale had put together to conquer MTV and American audiences; other members included Adrian Vandenberg, formerly of Teaser and Vandenberg, Tommy Aldridge of Ozzy Osbourne and Black Oak Arkansas fame, and Rudy Sarzo, who had become hugely successful playing with Ozzy Osbourne and Quiet Riot. Campbell was fired from Whitesnake after the band's 1987-1988 world tour.
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.
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 September 2009, Vivian agreed to join his lifelong favorite, Thin Lizzy. In May 2010, it was announced to the world at large that Campbell would be joining Scott Gorham and other musicians in a new, reformed version of Thin Lizzy.
On May 11, 2011 Vivian released a solo song available for free download. The track is called "Seems So Real" with Campbell on lead vocals and guitar. He’s joined by Robert Cosio (rhythm guitar, slide guitar and electric piano), Lou Castro (bass) and Mark Schulman (drums). Produced by Robert Cosio and mixed by Ronan McHugh.
Campbell currently resides in Southern California and has two daughters, Lily Rose (born 1999) and Una Marigold (born 2001) with ex-wife Julie Campbell. He also plays soccer (football) regularly with Hollywood United F.C., a team composed mostly of celebrities and former professional football players.
At the beginning of Campbell's career, his main instrument was a Les Paul with DiMarzio pickups. This guitar was used on Dio's Holy Diver, as can be seen in the booklet pictures. As so-called superstrats became increasingly popular among metal guitarists in the mid-1980s, Campbell switched to a Charvel. Vivian recounts in the October 1985 issue of Guitar for the Practicing Musician that he read in a Gary Moore interview about Grover Jackson and Charvel. He subsequently contacted the company. Grover came down to a rehearsal for the first album and gave Vivian a guitar. He had it repainted with the "Holy Diver" artwork. Vivan used a combination of Duncan J.B Custom's and Invaders for the "Last In Line" tour. For the "Sacred Heart" album he started using the Charvel pickups "which were a lot like the Duncan's but hotter" to quote Vivian from the article. At around the same time he filmed an instructional video in which he plays a blue B.C. Rich ST, a model first produced circa 1986.
When he joined Whitesnake, Campbell acquired a pink-red-and-yellow Rand, a high-end 27-fret guitar handmade by Rand Havener, a former B.C. Rich employee. This guitar featured innovative sculpted wings, almost no neck heel due to its neck-through construction, a pointy, very droopy headstock, a pao ferro fretboard, custom inlays, a Floyd Rose bridge, and two Tom Anderson custom pickups. It can be seen in the "Still of the Night" video; another Rand was used in the video for "Is This Love."
During the same period (1987–1988), Campbell had Dallas-area luthier Buddy Blaze make him a custom guitar. This instrument, nicknamed the Shredder, had a Strat-shaped mahogany body with polka-dot graphics, 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 its ebony fretboard, a pointy reverse 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 name NightSwan. Vivian signed with Kramer as an endorser, and there are a few ads showing him with this guitar. He played the original Shredder through Whitesnake's 1987-1988 world tour. Midway through the Whitesnake world tour, Campbell arrived unannounced at Glenn Currie's house in Portadown, Northern Ireland and tried to buy a guitar and offered £3,000 at the start but was told it was not for sale. Campbell said OK then I'll keep going and kept bidding up to £10,000, but was continually told it was not for sale and was unsuccessful in the attempted purchase. The Curries maintain that Campbell was under the influence of strong narcotics at the time, or put in their words, "off his face on something".
After leaving 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, Campbell switched back to Les Pauls and currently continues to play Gibson guitars.
A detailed gear diagram 'Vivian's 2011 Def Leppard guitar rig' is well-documented.
With Sweet Savage
- "Take No Prisoners"/"Killing Time" (1981)
- "Whiskey in the Jar"
- Holy Diver (1983)
- The Last in Line (1984)
- Sacred Heart (1985)
- The Dio E.P. (1986)
- Intermission (1986)
With Lou Gramm solo
- Long Hard Look (1989)
- Riverdogs (1990)
- "World Gone Mad" (2011)
With Shadow King
- Shadow King (1991)
With Def Leppard
- Retro Active (1993)
- Vault: Def Leppard's Greatest Hits (1980-1995)(1995)
- Slang (1996)
- Euphoria (1999)
- X (2002)
- Best of Def Leppard (2004)
- Rock of Ages: The Definitive Collection (2005)
- Yeah! (2006)
- Songs from the Sparkle Lounge (2008)
- Mirrorball: Live And More (2011)
- Through Time (1998)
- Two Sides of If (2005)
- Gotthard - Gotthard (1992)
- L.A. Zoo, Bunny Brunel, Tone Center, 1998
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Image from Discogs