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Vivian Campbell Says ‘Gatekeepers’ Prevented Dio Reunion

Vivian Campbell and Ronnie James Dio
Kevin Winter / Robert Cianflone, Getty Images

Def Leppard guitarist Vivian Campbell believes he could have settled his differences with the late Ronnie James Dio if it hadn’t been for “industry gatekeepers” keeping them apart. And he thinks they might even have worked together again, despite the falling out that led to their split in 1983.

A feud erupted between the pair while Campbell was a member of Dio, and remained unresolved when the iconic singer died in 2010. The guitarist went on to work with Whitesnake and Lou Gramm before joining Def Leppard in 1992. He formed Last in Line in 2012 with former Dio band members Vinny Appice and Jimmy Bain with the intention of reclaiming musical ownership of the material they’d helped create with Dio, who would have celebrated his 75th birthday this week.

“In many ways I’m kind of saddened that Ronnie and I never had a chance to make up,” Campbell told Rock Talk With Mitch Lafon. “I know there was a part of Ronnie that was really dark and really angry, but I know there was another part of him that was really sweet and forthcoming. I think, under the right circumstances, Ronnie and I would have sat down, had a beer and made our peace. We could have even worked together again and it would have been great.”

But, he added, “there’s a lot of gatekeepers in this industry, and one of the things that they do very, very well is keep people apart. It wouldn’t have happened as long as those gatekeepers were there. That’s my point.”

Last in Line released their debut album, Heavy Crown, last year, soon after the death of bassist Bain. After considering breaking up, the band recruited Phil Soussan and is now working on its second LP.

“We’ve got about 50 percent of it written,” Campbell said. “We’ll go back in the studio, again with Jeff Pilson to produce. We start on Sept. 11, I believe. But it probably won’t be delivered until December, so it would be early 2018 before it gets out. The new songs are really interesting – some of the arrangements are a bit more complex than they were on the first album. It’s been a real joy.”

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