Campbell: Original Dio would have toured again
For Def Leppard guitarist Vivian Campbell, 2013 has been a tough year, but it’s getting better.
In March, Campbell was diagnosed with the cancer Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, and has since undergone a course of chemotherapy. Yet he was still able to perform with Leppard in April during a month-long residency in Las Vegas. And this week, Campbell goes back to his roots, playing four UK club shows with Last In Line, the band in which he is reunited with three fellow ex-Dio members, bassist Jimmy Bain, drummer Vinny Appice and keyboard player Claude Schnell, plus former Lynch Mob singer Andy Freeman.
Two years after the death of their former bandmate and leader Ronnie James Dio, Last In Line will be performing songs from the first three Dio albums released in the early 80s. “It’s a great thrill to play these songs again,” Campbell says.
Firstly, Viv, how are you feeling right now?
All indications are that the chemo is doing the work that it’s supposed to. I certainly feel like it is. So I’m very hopeful of a 100 per cent recovery. I’ll have to remain vigilant for the rest of my life, but I’m very confident that with this cancer, I’m going to kick its bum. And it’s important not to let it overwhelm the rest of your life.
How did you cope with doing the Leppard shows in Vegas right after your chemo began?
Leppard started rehearsals in LA on March 11, and I went under the knife for a surgical biopsy. Needless to say, I didn’t make it to rehearsals that day. But they’d caught the cancer in the early stages, which is good. So my oncologist was comfortable putting my chemo back a month so I could do the shows in Vegas. It was bizarre to be out there on stage. I was a little preoccupied. And I was totally knackered. But I had to do it. The guys in the band said, ‘If you don’t want to do it, that’s fine. We’ll get a ringer in.’ But I said, ‘Fuck that shit!’ I didn’t want someone else out on stage doing my parts.
Why did you decide to go public about your illness?
Well, I told my family and I told the guys in the band. Other than that I didn’t want it to be common knowledge, for obvious reasons. But then the chemo started and my hair was falling out in fucking handfuls. So I had a choice: go public with this or wear a wig…
Did you try the wig option?
Oh yeah. I had a custom-made syrup made by this theatrical wig maker in LA. It looked exactly like my hair. So I could have gotten away with it. But when I tried it on it just felt so fucking weird. I wore it for 15 minutes and haven’t worn it since. I just thought: where do you draw the line? Do you wear it 24/7, or do you just wear it on stage… you know, like Steel Panther?