The Def Leppard axeman has reunited with fellow founding Dio members Vinny Appice, Jimmy Bain and Claude Schnell. Together with singer Andy Freeman they’re gearing up to tour the UK, playing the tracks they wrote as part of the late Ronnie James Dio’s band.
And Campbell – who was fired by Dio in 1986 – asserts the move to reclaim material he co-created is long overdue.
He tells Classic Rock: “I’ve got a different way of looking at it now than I’ve had for almost 30 years.
“I was fired, then I was portrayed as the one who’d turned my back on the band. It wasn’t true: I never wanted to leave Dio.
“I will admit that, at the time, I was experiencing growth and I wanted to try different kinds of music. That obviously rubbed Ronnie the wrong way. Perhaps that’s what he construed as me not wanting to be in the band – but I certainly did not want to leave.”
As a result of the experience, Campbell turned his back on the music he’d written with Dio, and he’s still upset about the way he and his bandmates were treated. “We wrote those songs,” he emphasises. “We weren’t just salaried guitarists, bassists, drummers. But we got none of the records, the tour profits, the merchandise. We were paid literally less than the crew.
“We were made to feel like we weren’t part of it. Being fired hurt a lot, and, perhaps childishly, I ran away from it.
“So I’m re-taking ownership of that stuff. It’s as much mine as anyone else’s; I wrote those songs and I put my heart and soul into that project.”
But Campbell – who’s currently receiving treatment for cancer – didn’t set out with the aim of putting the band back together. He only invited his former colleagues to a one-off jam session in a rehearsal studio, after having been inspired by his short stint with Thin Lizzy in 2010-11.
“That really helped me connect with guitar playing again,” he says. “To play those Lizzy songs from my youth really connected the dots for me.
“So I called Vinnie, Jimmy and Claude and we went into a studio. We’d only booked a room for a few hours, and about half-way through Vinnie said, ‘I know this guy.’ Andy walked in, and right away it just sounded amazing.”
Last In Line – named after Dio’s second album – play their first-ever shows next month:
Aug 8: Belfast Limelight
Aug 9: Glasgow Cathouse
Aug 10: Bloodstock festival
Aug 11: London Islington Academy