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Def Leppard Tour History Fan Archive.
Vivian Campbell On First Band Sweet Savage And Leaving School

Monday, 15th February 2016

Vivian Campbell 2015.
Pic by Chele Drappel

Def Leppard guitarist Vivian Campbell appeared on My Planet Rocks in the UK last night and he mentioned his school days.

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 (UK only).

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

My Planet Rocks - Vivian Campbell - 14th February 2016

Sweet Savage

"All I ever wanted to be was in one band. The guitar player in a band you know and that was Sweet Savage my first band. And we tried. We knocked on the door you know. We got a publishing deal. We got opportunities. Released a couple of indie singles, toured."

"I was16 when I formed the band. But you know I was probably 17 or 18 by the time we were out doing it seriously. And then I was 19 when I decided that wasn't gonna work, and then I auditioned with Ronnie Dio and flew off to LA."

Early Musical Influences

"The first thing that really turned me on to music was Marc Bolan. On Top Of The Pops on a Thursday night. I have a sister Fiona, and she's a year and a bit older than me. Fiona was really into Marc Bolan and she went out and bought the single Bang A Gong. You know and it was great having a sister because then I could - I'm gonna play guitar and I'm gonna need some stage clothes. So I just went upstairs and raided my sisters wardrobe. And tried to grab ill fitting T-Shirts."

"Not the dresses no. No skirts but you know like girlie jackets and stuff like that. It was great for - a great source of early stage wear."

Learning To Play Guitar

"So that was what made me want to get a guitar, was Marc Bolan and T. Rex. But then a year or so later, the man who made me want to learn how to play guitar was Rory Gallagher. That was my first actual album. My cousin Richard gave me for Christmas of '72 the Live In Europe '72, the Rory Gallagher album and that was quite an eye opener. I gotta say or an ear opener. I gotten a guitar by that stage. An actual electric guitar and I was very, very disappointed to find out that it didn't play itself. When I was kind of obsessed with Marc Bolan and T. Rex and whatnot. I was young enough and naive enough. I was only about ten or nine or something at the time. I was young enough to think that if you bought one of those real expensive electric guitars, they actually did the job for you. And you really need to get a Fender or a Gibson guitar so that it'll do the job."

"And then you know you get the guitar and you think god I can't. I don't even know how to tune this or where to begin. And this was Belfast on the early 70s. Nobody played guitar. There were no guitar teachers. It was just a whole different world. So I'd have to - you know there's no YouTube you can go on and say how do you play a D chord you know. And eventually I found this guy who worked with my father. He played a bit of guitar. He played like a show band kind of thing. That played weddings and occasions. And I said can you show me how to tune this thing?. And he said well I can't show you how to tune it. If you don't know how to tune it - when you know how to tune it, come back and I'll show you a few chords."

"So I remember taking piano lessons for a couple of months just to learn how to tune a guitar. And my piano teacher was very disappointed when I told her, after I'd learned to play a bit of piano, you know I said well thanks but this has been great and all but I really just wanted to know where the notes are so I can go home and tune my guitar. So I finally figured out how to tune a guitar and then I went back to my Dad's mate and said OK I've got this thing in tune now show me a few chords. And he did you know. That was great. He showed me a few of the first position chords and I was off and running."

T. Rex - Get It On (Bang A Gong)

"Bang A Gong is the song that I decided on because I think that's the one that really got the ball rolling for me. It's such a seductive track. And in fact even Def Leppard kind of reference it a bit. The song Armageddon It has that kind of off beat guitar thing. I happen to play that part too. And I remember when I joined Leppard. Joe kind of made that reference to me. He said do you happen to know know that T. Rex song. And I said really? do I happen to know it!. As a matter of fact yeah. So there you go. Little connection."

Sweet Savage/Leaving School

"Well Sweet Savage were never really pro. I mean we were kind of in a semi pro position. I was - I got kicked out of school when I was 16 and so from that point on I really..."

What did you do?

"It's what I didn't do more like. I wasn't interested in school at all. I went to a Catholic school and I was an atheist. But the religious curriculum was an everyday kind of thing and I just couldn't tolerate it. I just wanted to play guitar and the head mistress was telling me. On a weekly basis basically you know I need to decide on a proper career and I'll never make a living doing that. And that just kind of fuelled me even more and I that's all I did was play guitar. School was tough for me and the guitar was my salvation you know. It saved my life then. And it's saved my life for a second time, a few years ago. I'm happy to say. So it's been good to me."