Vivian Campbell, Biography, Dio, Def Leppard, Whitesnake

Vivian Patrick Campbell is an Irish rock guitarist who is currently a member of the band Def Leppard, and as of may, 2010, also a member of the reunited Thin Lizzy. Campbell has also been a part of Whitesnake, Sweet Savage, Trinity, Riverdogs, and Shadow King after first rising to prominence as the original guitarist for Dio. He also played lead guitar for the second solo album from Foreigner frontman Lou Gramm.

Campbell was born August 25th, 1962 in Lisburn in Northern Ireland. He began playing guitar at the age of 12 and joined his first band, Sweet Savage, in 1977 when he was just 15 years old. Sweet Savage, while never achieving much commercial success, are cited as a major influence for a number of bands including Metallica, who covered their song, “Killing Time,” on their Garage Days Re-revisited album.

Campbell left Sweet Savage in 1983 to join former Black Sabbath / Rainbow frontman Ronnie James Dio in forming Dio. Dio would bring in former Rainbow bandmate Jimmy Bain to play bass and former Black Sabbath bandmate Vinny Appice to handle the drums. Keyboardist Claude Schnell would complete the band’s original lineup. The band’s first album, “Holy Diver,” was a huge commercial success and landed the band a spot in the biggest hard rock music festival in the world, “The Monsters of Rock” festival, held annually at the Castle Donnington race track in England.

The band would return to the studio after an extensive world tour and record its second album, “The Last In Line.” The album would chart as high as number 23 in the US, and enjoyed commercial success internationally as well. The title track, “We Rock,” and “Mystery” would all become radio hits in the emerging heavy metal market.

The band’s third album, “Sacred Heart,” would peak at number 29 on US albums charts. It featured several radio hits, as well, including “Rock N Roll Children” and “Hungry For Heaven,” which was also included on the soundtrack for the film “Vision Quest.” Shortly after the release of “Sacred Heart” the band would record another song, “Hide In the Rainbow,” for the film “Iron Eagle.” It would be the last song Campbell recorded with the band, as Dio replaced him with Craig Goldy, who had previously played in Giuffria and Rough Cutt.

In 1987, Whitesnake frontman David Coverdale recruited Campbell to replace John Sykes in the band. Campbell would tour extensively with the band in 1987 and 1988, capitalizing on the enormous success of the band’s self-titled album, which Sykes had written and recorded before Coverdale fired him. Campbell would next join former Foreigner frontman Lou Gramm on his 1989 solo album, “Long Hard Look.” Afterwards, Campbell would produce a demo for and later join the band Riverdogs for their 1990 self-titled debut album before reuniting with Gramm in the band Shadow King. The band would only release one album, a self-titled effort in 1991, before Gramm would reunite with Foreigner.

After Shadow King, Campbell would go on to replace Def Leppard’s founding guitarist Steve Clark who died from a combination of alcohol and prescription drugs in December, 1991. Campbell has been with the band ever since. During that time, he has also released a solo album, “Two Sides Of If,” and performed in side projects with the bands Clock and Riverdogs. In May, 2010, it was announced that Campbell was joining Scott Gorham in a new incarnation of the band Thin Lizzy.