Vivian Campbell says that DIO DISCIPLES have "zero credibility" as a Ronnie James Dio tribute project despite the fact that the band is fully supported by Ronnie's widow/manager, Wendy.
The current DEF LEPPARD guitarist, along with drummer Vinny Appice and bassist Jimmy Bain, was part of the original DIO lineup, which reunited in 2012 alongside singer Andrew Freeman to form LAST IN LINE.
When LAST IN LINE formed, the intent was to celebrate Ronnie James Dio's early work by reuniting the members of the original DIO lineup. After playing shows that featured a setlist composed exclusively of material from the first three DIO albums, the band decided to move forward and create new music in a similar vein.
Asked in a new interview with BigMusicGeek.com what separates LAST IN LINE from DIO DISCIPLES — which is made up of former members of DIO, along with a rotating lineup of singers, including former JUDAS PRIEST frontman Tim "Ripper" Owens — Vivian said: "I don't think we're even in the same league as the DIO DISCIPLES. None of those guys were original members of the band DIO. We're the original band. We're the guys who formed the band with Ronnie. Not only were in the band, but we wrote all the songs with Ronnie. If you look at the writing credits on the first three records, it was very, very much a collaborative creative venture. That's what made the early DIO records so strong. The guys in the DIO DISCIPLES... As far as I'm concerned, there is zero credibility with the DIO DISCIPLES."
According to Vivian, he didn't know about DIO DISCIPLES' existence until 2012, almost two years after the band first started playing shows as a tribute to Ronnie. "It was around the time that [LAST IN LINE] got together to jam that I had first heard of the DIO DISCIPLES," the guitarist said. "I wasn't even aware of them. It was actually Vinny who told me. I couldn't believe that these guys were going out and playing songs that we actually wrote with Ronnie. I thought, 'Well, if they're doing it, then why shouldn't we do it?' With us, there is a legitimacy to what were doing, ya know? I doubt that there is a real legitimacy in the DIO DISCIPLES."
LAST IN LINE takes its name from the second DIO album released in 1984. Appice, Bain and Campbell were Ronnie James Dio's co-conspirators and co-writers on the "Holy Diver", "The Last In Line" and "Sacred Heart" albums — the records that defined the classic early DIO sound and have gone on to become part of rock history.
In addition to Owens, Oni Logan (LYNCH MOB) and Joe Retta (SWEET, HEAVEN & EARTH) on vocals, DIO DISCIPLES features former DIO members Simon Wright on drums, Craig Goldy on guitar and Scott Warren on keyboards. They are joined by Bjorn Englen (YNGWIE MALMSTEEN) on bass.
DIO DISCIPLES is billed as a "celebration of the music and legacy of the greatest singer in the world, Ronnie James Dio." The band also notes that "we could NEVER replace Ronnie and that is NOT our intention. There will only ever be one Ronnie James Dio!"
During an April 2011 appearance on the "All Hail Hair" show on Fightin' Words Radio, Vinny Appice was asked what he thought of DIO DISCIPLES going out on the road and paying tribute to Ronnie James Dio. "I think it's disgusting," he said. "I mean, why are they even doing it? Plus, [Ronnie has] not even been passed away for a year. And, you know… It's kind of… I don't know. It's kind of weird, man. It's weird."
Vinny later had a change of heart and ended up playing a number of shows with DIO DISCIPLES, including in March of this year in Glendale, California.
In an interview with BackstageAxxess.com, Vinny stated about his involvement with DIO DISCIPLES: "Just because I said it was disgusting at one point, now it's all over Blabbermouth. 'To Vinny Appice, it's not disgusting anymore.' The problem was they did it a couple of months after Ronnie passed, and then I thought it was awful; it wasn't the right time. Now they can do whatever they want; it's cool. It was just that, at the moment, it didn't seem like the best time to do it."
Asked by "Totally Driven Radio" what Wendy Dio's reaction has been to LAST IN LINE, Vinny responded: "Well, she's not involved in this in any way, shape or form. I don't know… I haven't really talked to her and asked what she thought. So she's not involved in this. I don't really know what she thinks about it. She probably hates it. I don't know. But you know? We're out there pushing everything — pushing the old songs, then keeping everything alive too. So you can't knock that."
Campbell told Billboard that Wendy has nothing to do with, and no love for, LAST IN LINE. "Vinny still has occasional contact with her," Campbell said, "and when we first started doing this project, she said something along the lines of, 'Ronnie would be spinning in his grave.' So there you go."
DIO DISCIPLES performing DIO's "Holy Diver":
LAST IN LINE performing DIO's "Holy Diver":
LAST IN LINE: