Def Leppard’s Vivan Campbell Talks About Teaming Up with Journey for the Tour That’s Coming to the Q

click to enlarge Def Leppard’s Vivan Campbell Talks About Teaming Up with Journey for the Tour That’s Coming to the Q
Ross Halfin
Classic rock acts Def Leppard and Journey toured together some 12 years and now the bands are back on the road together again this summer for a tour that features both stadium and arena concerts. The tour comes to the Q at 7 p.m. on Monday, May 28.

One of only five artists to sell 10 million copies of two albums, Def Leppard crossed over into the pop charts with its 1983 album, Pyromania. The release delivered radio hits like "Photograph" and "Rock of Ages."

The band also recently celebrated the 30th anniversary of its other smash hit, Hysteria, by reissuing a remastered version of the album. Given the group’s longevity and continued popularity, the inevitable discussion of a Rock Hall nomination often arises. The band’s been eligible for 14 years but has never been nominated. Guitarist Vivian Campbell recently weighed in on the matter.

“We are becoming one of those bonafide classic bands,” he says in a recent phone call from his Los Angeles home where he was celebrating his daughter’s 17th birthday on what he said was a rare day off. “Leppard has a lot to offer in that regard. We’re as close to the original. I’m the new guy, and I’ve been here for 26 years. [Guitarist] Phil [Collen] is the next new guy, and he’s been in the band for 36 years, and the other guys go back to the late ’70s. We’re an original band with a strong catalog.”

Campbell says now that the band’s back catalog has become available digitally (licensing issues previously stood in the way), he anticipates the group will attract some new young fans too.

“It’s not just that our audience is growing, but [having young fans at the shows] breathes new life into us on stage," he says. "When we’re performing, and we see young people, it goes full circle and helps us as a band, and we play better.”

Campbell wouldn’t directly answer whether he thought that some of the band’s key influences — acts such as Judas Priest, Motorhead and Iron Maiden, for example — should be inducted.

“I don’t keep track of that and have a strong opinion about other bands,” he says. “I was a Def Leppard fan before I was in the band. I bought the Hysteria album twice. I had a cassette of it, and I wore it. It was one of the very first CDs I ever had. I was a fan for many years. Pyromania was a great groundbreaking album, and then when Hysteria came along, there were seven or eight hit songs on that album. It didn’t win a Grammy or even get nominated. The awards are wonderful, but at the end of the day, what matters to us is seeing people come to the shows.”

Initially, Campbell joined the band in April of 1992 after original guitarist Steve Clark had passed. He played a club gig with the band at McGonagle’s in Dublin; that show was simply a warm-up concert for an arena-sized tribute to Queen’s Freddie Mercury that the band would play a few days later.

“It was a big show, but at that stage in my career, I was pretty seasoned,” says Campbell when asked about the Mercury tribute concert. “I had done three world tours with Dio and a massive world tour with Whitesnake in 1987 and 1988. I was used to playing big venues and with different bands. I was quite comfortable playing with Def Leppard, and we rehearsed for a long time. The one thing I remember thinking about that day was how difficult it must have been for the other guys. They had only been on stage with Steve Clark, and now, they were here with this Irish guy.”

Last year, the band released the concert film And There Will Be A Next Time – Live, which was shot in Detroit, but it also continues to write new material, and that's something that Campbell says keeps the group invigorated. And he was particularly looking forward to rejoining Journey on the road for a co-headlining tour of classic rock hits.

“We’ll close one night, and they’ll close the next night," says Campbell. "Both bands will play 90-minute sets. They’re the one band that’s closest to Def Leppard in that they have so many hit songs. I grew up in Ireland and knew of them, but they weren’t the massive band that they are here. Over the years, I’ve heard these hit songs, and I forgot how many they had. It’s similar to Def Leppard. When people come to a Def Leppard show, they forget how many hit songs there are. Pretty much every song is a hit song. It’s an exceptional package when you put both bands together.”

Journey, Def Leppard, 7 p.m. Monday, May 28, Quicken Loans Arena, One Center Court, (888) 894-9424. Tickets: $49.50-$179.50,

About The Author

Jeff Niesel

Jeff has been covering the Cleveland music scene for more than 20 years now. And on a regular basis, he tries to talk to whatever big acts are coming through town, too. If you're in a band that he needs to hear, email him at [email protected].
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