Vivian Campbell

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Vivian Campbell
Vivian Campbell with Thin Lizzy by Alec MacKellaig.jpg
Campbell with Thin Lizzy at Aberdeen Music Hall 6 January 2011
Background information
Birth name Vivian Patrick Campbell
Born (1962-08-25) 25 August 1962 (age 53)
Belfast, County Antrim, Northern Ireland
Genres Hard rock, blues-rock, heavy metal, Glam metal
Occupation(s) Musician, songwriter
Instruments Guitar, vocals
Years active 1977–present
Associated acts Clock, Def Leppard, Dio, Hear 'n Aid, Last in Line, Riverdogs, Shadow King, Sweet Savage, Thin Lizzy, Trinity, Whitesnake
Notable instruments
Gibson Les Paul
Gibson J-200
Zemaitis Guitars
Gibson Explorer

Vivian Patrick Campbell (born 25 August 1962) is a Northern Irish rock guitarist.

He came to prominence in the early 1980s as a member of Dio, and has been a member of Def Leppard since 1992 (replacing the late Steve Clark). Campbell has also worked with Thin Lizzy, Whitesnake, Sweet Savage, Trinity, Riverdogs, and Shadow King.


Youth and early career[edit]

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.

Campbell and Brian Downey in Thin Lizzy

Sweet Savage[edit]

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 90s 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 traditional Irish 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", "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 and Monsters of Rock, Nurnburg, Germany in 1984.

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 No. 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 No. 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[1] in 1986 and he joined Whitesnake.[2] 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."[3] Campbell later stated that he regretted making this statement.[4] Despite this, Dio stated in an article in Hit Parader that he wished Vivian 'the best.'


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. While he didn't record an album, he replaced John Sykes' guitar solo on the "Give Me All Your Love" 1988 single remix. Campbell was fired from Whitesnake after the band's 1987–1988 world tour.

Lou Gramm, Riverdogs and Shadow King[edit]

After leaving Whitesnake, Campbell would go on to play on Lou Gramm's second solo album, Long Hard Look. Though Gramm toured in support of the album, Campbell would not join him. Now a free agent in the business, Vivian joined the group Riverdogs after being tapped to produce their first demo. As an official member of the band, he would contribute to their eponymous debut album in 1990. Vivian once again teamed up with Lou Gramm in 1991 to join Gramm's new band Shadow King. After a single eponymous album, one music video, and one live show, Vivian left the group to join Def Leppard. Shadow King soon disbanded following Campbell's departure as Gramm and bassist Bruce Turgon would return to Gramm's former band Foreigner.

Campbell in concert in 2007

Def Leppard[edit]

In 1992, Campbell joined the rock band Def Leppard, after the release of their Adrenalize album. He replaced Steve Clark, who died on the 8th of 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.

Despite his treatment for Hodgkin's lymphoma, Campbell continued to tour with Def Leppard during summer 2013,[5] and he and the rest of the band have returned to the stage in summer 2014 as co-headliners with Kiss.

Side projects[edit]

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 produced by Tor Hyams 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, Campbell 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 11 May 2011 Campbell 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.

Personal life[edit]

Campbell currently resides in Southern California and has two daughters with ex-wife Julie Campbell. After getting divorced, Campbell married his longtime girlfriend Caitlin Phaneuf on 4 July 2014.[6] He also plays soccer (football) regularly with Hollywood United F.C., a team composed mostly of celebrities and former professional football players. On 10 June 2013 Campbell said that he has Hodgkin's lymphoma. He wanted fans to be aware of the "new aerodynamic hairstyle... I don't want anyone to be so shocked by my new look that they ask for a refund."[5]

Although in November 2013, Vivian announced that he was in remission from Hodgkin's lymphoma, he announced in June 2014 that, "The remission was a little bit premature. It came right back."[7][8] On 31 July, he announced that his cancer is again in remission.[9] In June 2015 Vivian announced that the remission turned out premature again and it came right back again. It is now being treated with what Vivian calls 'the mighty Pembrolizumab.'


Campbell in 2007 at the ND State Fair

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 JB Customs 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 builder Buddy Webster (aka Buddy Blaze) make him a custom guitar from Warmoth body parts. This instrument, nicknamed the Shredder, had a Strat-shaped mahogany body with polka-dot graphics, a 24-fret maple neck with 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 German Floyd Rose. A deal was then set up between Webster and Kramer Guitars, and the Shredder went into production under the name NightSwan, which had the "ping-pong" inlays (going from top to bottom up to the 12th fret and vice versa up to the 24th fret) on its fretboard. 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.

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 but is not an endorser.


With Sweet Savage[edit]

  • "Take No Prisoners"/"Killing Time" (1981)
  • "Whiskey in the Jar"

With Dio[edit]

With Whitesnake[edit]

With Lou Gramm solo[edit]

With Riverdogs[edit]

  • Riverdogs (1990)
  • World Gone Mad (2011)

With Shadow King[edit]

  • Shadow King (1991)

With Def Leppard[edit]

With Clock[edit]

  • Through Time (1998)


  • Two Sides of If (2005)

With Last in Line[edit]

  • Heavy Crown (2016)

Guest Appearances[edit]


  1. ^ "Dio Biography". Retrieved 2009-01-09. 
  2. ^ "Vivian Campbell Biography". Retrieved 2009-01-09. 
  3. ^ "The 26 Best Rock Feuds Ever!". Retrieved 2011-07-18. 
  4. ^ "Vivian Campbell vs. Ronnie James Dio – Nastiest Rock Feuds". Retrieved 2014-08-01. 
  5. ^ a b Elavksy, Cindy (23 June 2013). "Celebrity Extra". Downriver Sunday Times. King Features. Retrieved 5 September 2013. 
  6. ^ "Def Leppard's Vivian Campbell Marries Longtime Girlfriend Caitlin Phaneuf". 2014-07-06. Retrieved 2016-01-24. 
  7. ^ "DEF LEPPARD Guitarist VIVIAN CAMPBELL: 'I'm Officially In Remission' From Hodgkin's Lymphoma". BlabberMouth. 
  8. ^ "Def Leppard's Vivian Campbell battling cancer again". Toronto Sun. 25 June 2014. Retrieved 27 June 2014. 
  9. ^ "Def Leppard's Vivian Campbell Says His Cancer Is Once Again In 'Remission'". Blabbermouth. 31 July 2014. Retrieved 1 August 2014. 

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Steve Clark
Def Leppard Rhythm Guitarist