September, 2005

By: Clyde Richardson

Vivian Campbell on the Blues Trail

All you Def Leppard fans can relax, Vivian is still playing with Def Leppard. However, Vivian has released a solo cd that is ALL Blues. The title is “Two Sides of If”. You can read all about Mr. Campbell and his latest news along with some audio clips at so please check it out.

I had the great opportunity to speak with him via phone on 9/14/05 and the following is what transpired.

I immediately stated that unlike most interviews, where you have pointed questions and become self-serving to the interviewer, I just wanted to hear what Vivian Campbell, the artist, had to say. He immediately told me he did this solo cd in the Blues genre because he’s always had a love for it and for the last 20 years his wife has been telling him he should (thank you Mrs. Campbell). While not singing in Dio, Whitesnake was more of a vocal challenge that finally led to Def Leppard where the vocals are impeccable so everyone has to pull their own weight.

Vivian informed me that he’s been just saturating himself in the Blues for the last year and a half while mostly in L.A. Being the lead vocal is a major leap for the guitar-slinging virtuoso and, in my humble opinion, he’s nailed it! He’s got a World Class band together, complete with Terry Bozzio (he really should have me playing with him a bit on guitar, though…just wishful thinking). To quote Mr. Campbell, “the sound comes from the sum of its parts”. His major influences throughout his life have been Rory Gallagher, Jeff Beck, Gary Moore and Muddy Waters. Serious players, serious tone!

Vivian’s new cd stayed with the traditional standard blues feel, doing them real justice. I asked, “why all the standards?” By the way, Billy Gibbons not only played on the cd but wrote (and finished writing) one track just 5 minutes before recording it. Even Joan Osborne did a guest appearance, how cool is that? I wonder if she’d marry me? He did all the standards because he didn’t want to be presumptuous about what he was doing. I mean let’s get real, blues is far more than just playing 3 chords and doing some solos over them and I think it was stated quite well musically.

What truly amazed me about Vivian Campbell was Vivian as a person. Here is one of the world’s great guitarists and he’s just downright humble. He had nothing but praise for everyone he talked about and his main reference to blues masters was Muddy Waters and how most of the electric blues guitar licks came from Muddy, one way or the other. You can get his bio, tours, etc, right off his website,, but what you can’t get is how sincere this man is about his latest project. This is not just some rock player trying to do something a little different, this is a man dedicated to saying something with his music and I feel he’s stated it all quite eloquently on his latest cd.

Once again Mr. Campbell (he’s earned that title), thank you for the interview and letting us in on some of what makes you tick. If you’re ever in Chicago and want to play some blues, give me a call.

In closing, go out and get this cd, it’s a jewel for Def Leppard fans, Blues fans and Vivian Campbell fans and will be part of my collection for sure. Don’t forget to visit his website and to go out and buy the cd. Once again, it’s “Two Sides of If”…get it!

Clyde Richardson –