Former DIO and current DEF LEPPARD guitarist Vivian Campbell has revealed via Facebook that he is planning to join forces with three other original DIO members to play "some gigs" that will see the musicians performing material from the early DIO records that Campbell appeared on.
"I met up with the original DIO band guys, Vinny Appice [drums], Jimmy Bain [bass] and Claude Schnell [keyboards] again [Monday] night [April 30]. Now that I've brushed up on how to play those solos again, we're planning to jam some more and plan to do some gigs, too. We found a great singer who can really do justice to Ronnie's [James Dio] parts."
Campbell, Appice and Schnell previously jammed together in late February. Vivian wrote at the time on his Facebook page, "I had so much fun playing 'Rainbow In The Dark' with STEEL PANTHER [in January; see video below] that I've organized a get-together with my old DIO bandmates to jam some more of the old songs. I've been listening to the records trying to remember how the songs and solos go." He added, "Well, that was a hoot playing the old songs with the DIO guys again. I even broke out the original black Les Paul that I recorded them on (needs a re-fret really bad!). All in all, it sounded great and now we're thinking of taking it a stage further." Regarding who handled the vocals during the late-February jam session, he said, "A chap called Andy Freeman (friend of Vinny's) [HURRICANE, LYNCH MOB, BULLETBOYS] stopped by for about a half hour and sang a few of the songs. He was incredible!"
Bain commented: "We've had a couple of rehearsals and it sounds great. Listening to Vivian playing those songs again has been amazing. He's just so into it doing this, and his enthusiasm has rubbed off on the rest of us.
"Andy isn't Ronnie. How could he be? But what he does bring is his own twist on the vocals."
"Our aim is to do some shows around November, concentrating on the first two DIO albums. It's gonna be great getting back onstage with these guys for the first time in so long.”
Campbell and Ronnie James Dio worked together on the first three DIO albums 1983's "Holy Diver", 1984's "The Last in Line" and 1985's "Sacred Heart" — before Irishman Campbell left to join WHITESNAKE in 1987. Their subsequent relationship was strained, to say the least.
Speaking to Rush On Rock in January 2011, Campbell had this to say about the passing of the iconic singer: “I was numb to the whole thing. I hadn't talked to Ronnie in 25 years, so it wasn't as if we were close. My mother died nine or 10 days before him, so I was preoccupied with that. And my father died nine months before that. It was a really tough year on a personal level, and I had enough to think about."
He added, "The news about Ronnie James Dio just bounced off me. It was a difficult relationship on a personal level anyway. I was really proud of the music we made together but it was tough being in a band together. But he died way too young."
When asked if he regretted not having had the chance to make up with Ronnie before the vocalist died of stomach cancer in May 2010 at the age of 67, Campbell told Radio Metal last July, "No. Even when I was in the band with Ronnie back in the day, we never had a very strong relationship beyond music. That was what brought us together: we were on stage together, recording and writing songs... It was a very strange relationship between he and I. It was a lot of miscommunication, of misunderstanding and I think a lot of it was generational. Ronnie was a lot older than me and I found it very difficult to communicate with him and vice versa, I think he found it very difficult to communicate with me. A lot of people have thought for years and years that I left the band, which is not true, I was fired. I never wanted to quit the DIO band. I didn't have any reason to contact him again after he fired me. It had been 25 or so years since Ronnie had fired me from the band. I've never seen him again, I've never spoken to him again, he never contacted me. It is what it is. I'm very proud of the records that we recorded together, but you can't go back. You gotta keep moving forward."
In a May 2011 interview with Brazil's Roadie Crew magazine, Ronnie's wife and manager Wendy Dio stated about the controversy surrounding Ronnie's relationship with Campbell (in a 2003 interview Vivian called Ronnie "an awful businessman and, way more importantly, one of the vilest people in the industry."), "[Vivian] always said that he hated all the albums that he played on with Ronnie, and that was very hurtful to Ronnie. Very hurtful. Would you like someone who said something like that about your albums? He said a lot of things in the press that I don't wanna get into, because it really wasn't Ronnie's feud at all. Ronnie didn't fire him. I fired [Vivian]. He wanted as much money as Ronnie wanted. He thought he was as important as Ronnie was, and that was just wrong. But I don't wanna get into that. It's water under the bridge. It doesn't matter."
Vivian Campbell performing with STEEL PANTHER in January 2012 at the House Of Blues in Anaheim, California:
Original DIO lineup performing live in 1984 in Hollywood: