Sunday, March 4, 2012

The #68 Guitarist of the Rock Era: Vivian Campbell

At #68, a veteran guitarist who became known when one of the world's top groups, Def Leppard, hired him as their new guitarist:
#68:  Vivian Campbell, Dio, Whitesnake, Def Leppard, Thin Lizzy
36 years as an active guitarist
(Some of his best guitar solos)

Vivian Patrick Campbell was born August 25, 1962 in Lisburn, County Antrim, Northern Ireland.  He has been a member of many groups, most notably Whitesnake and Def Leppard.  

Campbell attended Rathmore Grammar School and began playing guitar at age 12.  He was the original guitarist of Dio beginning in 1982 and has played for Sweet Savage, Trinity, Whitesnake, Riverdogs, Shadow King and briefly with Thin Lizzy.  Campbell joined Sweet Savage when he was 15.  The band was cited as an influence of Metallica, which covered the song "Killing Time" on their Garage Inc. covers album.

In 1983, Campbell left Sweet Savage to join Dio after Jake E. Lee took a job as the lead guitarist for Ozzy Osbourne.  Much of the material for the album Holy Diver was already written that included Dio's biggest hit, "Rainbow in the Dark".  The group also performed at the Monsters of Rock festival later that year.  Last in Line followed up that album and a concert video from the tour called A Special from the Spectrum was released.  Sacred Heart also did fairly well and "Hungry for Heaven" was included on the Soundtrack to "Vision Quest".  Dio also recorded "Hide in the Rainbow" for the "Iron Eagle" Soundtrack, the last song Campbell recorded with the group.

Campbell left Dio for Whitesnake in 1986, the promising group of talented musicians from several different groups, including Thin Lizzy and Deep Purple.  David Coverdale, the leader of the group, had fired several of the members and regrouped.  Along with Campbell, the new Whitesnake included Adrian Vandenberg, Tommy Aldridge, who played with Black Oak Arkansas and Ozzy Osbourne, and Rudy Sarzo, who had become known after stints with Osbourne and Quiet Riot.  Campbell left Whitesnake after the group's 1987-1988 world tour.  

When guitarist Steve Clark of Def Leppard died in 1991, the group needed a replacement and turned to Campbell.  Vivian made his debut with the group in Dublin, Ireland.  A week later, Def Leppard played at the Freddie Mercury Concert for Life, performing "Animal", "Let's Get Rocked" and the Queen song "Now I'm Here" with Brian May.

In addition to being with Def Leppard, Campbell has helped the groups Clock and Riverdogs.  In 2005, he released a solo album Two Sides of It, featuring covers of his favorite blues songs as well as an original.  Campbell contributed guitar work on Foreigner's Lou Gramm for Gramm's second solo album Long Hard Look.

In September, 2009, Vivian agreed to join a reformed Thin Lizzy and he has done more solo work since.    

Campbell played a Les Paul guitar with DiMarzio pickups early in his career.  In the mid-80's, he switched to a Charvel.  Vivian also began playing a blue B.C. Rich ST.  When he joined Whitesnake, Campbell purchased a pink-red and yellow Rand, a 27-fret guitar made by a former employee of B.C. Rich.  The guitar featured sculpted wings, almost no neck heel, a pao ferro fretboard, custom inlays and a Floyd Rose bridge.  During this time, Campbell commissioned Buddy Blaze to make him a custom guitar he calls the Shredder, a Strat-shaped mahogany body with a 24-fret neck, a pointy reverse headstock and two Seymour Duncan humbucker pickups.  The Shredder went into production by Kramer Guitars with the name NightSwan.    

After leaving Whitesnake, Campbell played a Tom Anderston Strat-style guitar and then played custom Andersons with Def Leppard. He then switched back to Les Pauls and currently plays Gibson guitars.

Campbell has bounced around so often that many rock fans aren't familiar with him. But those in the business are and he is quite respected. Vivian Campbell ranks #68 for the Rock Era...

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