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Def Leppard Tour History Fan Archive.
Vivian Campbell Talks About Def Leppard/His Health On Planet Rock

Sunday, 14th February 2016

Vivian Campbell 2015.
Wyatt Wendels/Vivian Campbell

Def Leppard guitarist Vivian Campbell appeared on My Planet Rocks in the UK earlier tonight and audio is available.

Vivian picked some of his favourite songs and two by Def Leppard.

He also talked about being in many different bands, his first band Sweet Savage, his early musical influences, Sweet Savage, DIO, Whitesnake, Thin Lizzy, joining Def Leppard in 1992, the mid 90s and his illness.

Listen Again to this show via the Planet Rock player linked below.

The appearance was likely taped back in December when Phil Collen appeared on the same show.

My Planet Rocks - Vivian Campbell - 14th February 2016 Playlist

  • 01 - Def Leppard - Let's Go (Radio Edit)
  • 02 - T. Rex - Get It On (Bang A Gong)
  • 03 - DIO - Holy Diver
  • 04 - Deep Purple - Getting Tighter
  • 05 - Thin Lizzy - Don't Believe A Word
  • 06 - Kate Bush - Wuthering Heights
  • 07 - Def Leppard - Cruise Control

My Planet Rocks - Vivian Campbell - 14th February 2016

Joining Def Leppard

"It was a difficult choice for me too, because I had been, as you'd noted, through so many bands. I was completely done. I was convinced I would never be in a band. For whatever reason it just wasn't gonna work out. So I was about to embark on recording a solo record and that's when Joe called me and said - you know this is about a year after Steve had passed. And he said we're deciding to continue. We need to find another guitar player. I've put your name forward. Are you interested?. And I said OK let's meet and talk."

"So we went into the studio to play. But we all knew it wasn't about playing because they knew I could play guitar. It was kind of like a courtship and it went on for several weeks. We'd go into a rehearsal room. We'd play for a couple of hours. Then we'd go to dinner and social stuff. We'd go play football the a Sunday afternoon. We even went to the movies to see The Rolling Stones IMAX. But it was a difficult decision for all of us you know because they were trying to replace their friend. I mean above all else Steve was their friend you know and that's always gonna be difficult."

"So they needed to know that my personality was gonna fit with theirs. And that's why I've actually managed to stay in the band for you know 23, almost years now because we took the time to make sure it was gonna work. On a personal level. It's not just about the music. You know it's not just about the playing because you spend so many hours a day in a room. On a bus. It's only a couple of hours when you're on stage. The rest of it is submarine duty you know and you've really gotta get your head down and just be able to get along with people you know."

Mid 90s Def Leppard-Slang Album/Struggling?

"Absolutely like that yeah. Yeah. That's why the Slang record was so radically different and so un-Leppard sounding. We went into the studio to make that record knowing only one thing. That we couldn't sound like Def Leppard. We were very heavily influenced by what was current in music at the time. The album that stands out to me. As the one that we referenced the most, was Superunknown by Soundgarden. Which I personally think was the best record of that whole era because it had it all. So the songs were dark."

"It was also a dark time for the band. You know Sav's father died literally on the eve of us starting to record the record. We'd flown to Spain to make the album. His father died. He had to travel back. You know there was divorce going on within the band. It was just dark times. So the record kind of reflects that. When it came to touring that record. For the first time we went to places we never had been to before. To South America and to Asia. Places like Malaysia and Korea, South Korea. I remember playing there. You know we went to where we were wanted. Indonesia, places like that and we played like 15 or 20,000 people. You know because it didn't - Grunge hadn't happened over there yet."

"But then a few years later we did the Euphoria record and that was a very deliberate Hi, we're back. So we actually did get some success on that. And we knew at that time that it was kind of OK to start being Def Leppard again because - I remember one of the first shows we did on that album cycle tour was a festival in Wisconsin or something. And Courtney Love's band Hole were playing and the guitar player had a Pyromania T-Shirt on. And we thought OK we've come through the storm and now it's like the cool kids. Either that or he was being totally ironic. But it turned out you know that he wasn't. That he was actually a fan of Def Leppard. And so many of our peers. So many other bands of that time split up. They just couldn't handle it any more. They said OK we're quitting. We're throwing in the towel but we just kept slugging it out"

His Illness

"Just in a nutshell. I have Hodgkin's Lymphoma. I was diagnosed in March of 2013, but from late 2011 I knew there was something seriously wrong with me. I just lost a lot of weight. We were on tour with Leppard. We were in Australia. I remember I got a head cold and I had to call the Rock doc to come to the show. And he gave me antibiotics and I took those. But yet two or three weeks later we were here in England doing some shows and I got the same illness. And I saw another Rock doc. He gave me more antibiotics and then a month after that I'm back in Los Angeles. I get the same illness again. It just kept recurring. Just basic you know Flu-like symptoms and head cold."

"But the one thing through all of this I had a persistent cough. Just wouldn't go away. It would ebb and flow. Sometimes it would be really bad. Sometimes it was not so bad at all. This went on for months and my doctor sent me to a respiratory specialist and that guy just gave me inhalers and nasal sprays. You know but I knew there was something going on. And so one day I had had enough of it. I went in to this respiratory doctor and I said look, X-ray my chest. There's something going on. I have a cough that will not go away. It's been about a year and a half. Something's going on. He says OK, OK. We'll do an X-ray. So do an X-ray and he comes back and into the room reading he X-ray and you know it's not good when the doctor makes this noise - hmmm."

"He said there's something really not looking good here. He said let's go have a CT scan right away. So he sent me to some other place that afternoon and did a CT scan and came back. And then he said I'm gonna call you tomorrow. So he called me and he said I want you to go see an oncologist. And I knew that wasn't good. So that's what I did the next day and I went to see this brilliant doctor in Los Angeles and she knew right away. She asked me some questions. You know are you having night sweats?. And I said yeah I've had that for like a year or so. Are your shins itching?. I thought really?. What's that got to do with cancer and said yeah they have. You know they really, really - I'm scratching myself raw. So I had all these classic little - what would seem to be not serious issues to begin with on their own. But I had all these kind of lined up to something and then we did a biopsy and she found out it was cancer."

Immunotherapy Treatment

"So I've been dealing with this the last few years and I've done three rounds of chemo. I did a Stem cell transplant about a year ago and I really was hopeful that that was it with the Stem cell transplant. That's kind of how it was sold to me. That that would be the be all and end all. But unfortunately in May of this year [2015] we did some more scans just to follow up. And it showed that it was coming back. So I'm currently doing a course of treatment called immunotherapy - is the overall name for this style of treatment. I'm taking a drug called Pembrolizumab. It would be a great word for Scrabble!."

"I've been doing this for six months and it appears to be working. It appears to be at the very, very least holding my tumors at bay. Which I'll take because this drug, this treatment. this regime allows me to continue to tour and I can do this for another year and a half from this point. So it just requires a lot of travel on my behalf because I've got to go back to LA every three to three and half weeks to do these infusions."

Are you naturally positive?

"No, I always was. You know I always looked at life from the positive point of view. This had made me - this has really reinforced that notion. Quite convincingly. So you know - life is really, really short and it's a beautiful thing if you look at it in a beautiful way. And you know I'm not worried about this cancer at all. I mean I will not succumb to this disease. Absolutely I'm convinced of that. Something else will kill me. But not this, no."

"When you have something going on and you know it's happening in your body, it's best to get your head down and work. So many people have said to me. Even my band mates. You know the guys in Leppard. You know out of genuine concern always said to me from day one. Look, if you need to stay at home and take care of this. We'll support you in any way we can. And I said to them. I couldn't think of anything worse. Sitting in a dark room dwelling on it you know. You need to live life and there's no greater way to live it than to play guitar on stage with fucking rock band."