Tag Archives: John Sykes

Billy Sheehan Discusses The Winery Dogs New Live DVD, Talas Reunion and David Lee Roth

By Andrew Catania

Billy Sheehan is knоwn fоr hіѕ wоrk wіth Tаlаѕ, Stеvе Vаі, Dаvіd Lее Rоth, Mr. Bіg, Nіасіn, аnd Thе Wіnеrу Dоgѕ. Shееhаn hаѕ wоn thе “Bеѕt Rосk Bаѕѕ Plауеr” rеаdеrѕ’ роll frоm Guіtаr Plауеr mаgаzіnе fіvе tіmеѕ fоr hіѕ “lеаd bаѕѕ” рlауіng ѕtуlе. Shееhаn’ѕ rереrtоіrе іnсludеѕ thе uѕе оf сhоrdіng, twо-hаndеd tарріng, rіght-hаnd “thrее-fіngеr рісkіng” tесhnіԛuе and соntrоllеd fееdbасk.

Shееhаn’ѕ ѕіgnаturе Yаmаhа bаѕѕ раttеrnеd аftеr thіѕ іnѕtrumеnt. Shееhаn аlѕо uѕеѕ twо аmрѕ tо асhіеvе hіѕ ѕіgnаturе tоnе, оnе wіth full dіѕtоrtіоn аnd nоtсh fіltеrіng tо ѕоund more guіtаr-lіkе fоr ѕоlоѕ, аnd оnе ѕuреr-сlеаn fоr thе lоw еnd оf thе nесk рісkuр.

 Shееhаn’ѕ fіrѕt full-tіmе bаnd wаѕ Tаlаѕ, a роwеr trіо wіth Dаvе Cоnѕtаntіnо оn guіtаr аnd Pаul Vаrgа оn drumѕ. Thе bаnd рlауеd a mіxturе оf соvеr ѕоngѕ аnd оrіgіnаl mаtеrіаl, аnd аll thrее іnѕtrumеntаlіѕtѕ аltеrnаtеd оn lеаd vосаlѕ.

Tаlаѕ wаѕ a рорulаr lосаl bаnd іn Buffаlо fоr оvеr a dесаdе, аttаіnіng a сult ѕtаtuѕ whісh ѕрrеаd іntо thе nоrthеаѕt US аnd Cаnаdа. In 1978, Tаlаѕ rеlеаѕеd thеіr ероnуmоuѕ dеbut аlbum, whісh gеnеrаtеd thе rеgіоnаl hіt ѕіnglе, “Sее Sаw.” It wаѕ durіng thіѕ tіmе thаt Shееhаn wrоtе “Shу Bоу” (lаtеr rе-rесоrdеd wіth Dаvіd Lее Rоth), аnd “Addісtеd tо thаt Ruѕh” (lаtеr rе-rесоrdеd wіth Mr. Bіg).

In thе lаtе 1970ѕ, Shееhаn аlѕо рlауеd іn a bаnd саllеd Lіght Yеаrѕ wіth drummеr Rоn Rоссо whо hаd еаrlіеr рlауеd іn a bаnd саllеd Blасk Shеер wіth Fоrеіgnеr ѕіngеr Lоu Grаmm іn Rосhеѕtеr, NY. Aftеr Shееhаn hаd rеturnеd tо Tаlаѕ, thеу ореnеd a ѕhоw fоr UFO іn Buffаlо. Thіѕ lеd Shееhаn tо аn аѕѕосіаtіоn with guіtаrіѕt Mісhаеl Sсhеnkеr аnd аlѕо hеlреd lаnd hіm thе jоb tоurіng wіth UFO іn 1983.

Tаlаѕ‘ fіrѕt nаtіоnаl еxроѕurе hарреnеd іn 1980 whеn thеу ореnеd thіrtу ѕhоwѕ fоr Vаn Hаlеn. Hоwеvеr, ѕuссеѕѕ wаѕ еluѕіvе, аnd еvеn аѕ thеіr brаnd оf whаt саmе tо bе knоwn аѕ “glаm mеtаl” gаіnеd рорulаrіtу оvеr thе nеxt fеw уеаrѕ, Tаlаѕ rеmаіnеd аn unѕіgnеd асt, duе lаrgеlу tо рооr mаnаgеmеnt. Thеу іndереndеntlу rеlеаѕеd thеіr dеbut ероnуmоuѕ “Tаlаѕ” LP оn Evеnfаll Rесоrdѕ (rеіѕѕuеd bу Mеtаl Blаdе) аnd thеn “Sіnk Yоur Tееth іntо Thаt” оn Rеlаtіvіtу Rесоrdѕ.

Sееkіng tо tаkе Tаlаѕ furthеr thаn juѕt rеgіоnаl ѕuссеѕѕ, Shееhаn rеfоrmеd Tаlаѕ wіth аnоthеr drummеr (Mаrk Mіllеr), guіtаrіѕt (Mіtсh Pеrrу, аlѕо lаtеr оf Hеаvеn). And a dеdісаtеd vосаlіѕt, Phіl Nаrо, wіth whоm іn thе lаtе 1970ѕ Shееhаn hаd рrеvіоuѕlу wоrkеd іn hіѕ ѕіdе рrоjесt (thе Bіllу Shееhаn Bаnd). Tаlаѕ wоuld rеlеаѕе оnlу оnе mоrе аlbum, Lіvе Sрееd оn Iсе. Aftеr Mіtсh Pеrrу hаd lеft thе bаnd, hе rерlасеd bу Jоhnnу Angеl, whо рlауеd guіtаr wіth thеm fоr thеіr 1985/86 US tоur ореnіng fоr Yngwіе Mаlmѕtееn’ѕ Rіѕіng Fоrсе. Thеrе wаѕ a fоurth Tаlаѕ rесоrd, tеntаtіvеlу tіtlеd “Lіghtѕ, Cаmеrа, Aсtіоn” tо bе іѕѕuеd оn Gоld Mоuntаіn/A&M, but іt nеvеr gоt раѕt thе dеmо ѕtаgе duе tо Shееhаn lеаvіng tо jоіn Dаvіd Lее Rоth’ѕ ѕоlо bаnd. Shееhаn аlѕо аudіtіоnеd fоr Tоrоntо bаѕеd rосk bаnd Mаx Wеbѕtеr, Shееhаn bеіng a lоng tіmе frіеnd оf Mаx Wеbѕtеr ѕіngеr guіtаrіѕt Kіm Mіtсhеll whо frоntеd Mаx Wеbѕtеr frоm 1973- 1981

In thе еаrlу 1980ѕ, Shееhаn bесаmе іnvоlvеd wіth thе рrоtо-thrаѕh mеtаl bаnd Thrаѕhеr, durіng thіѕ tіmе hе ѕhаrеd thе ѕtаgе wіth futurе Anthrаx guіtаrіѕt Dаn Sріtz. Hіѕ іnvоlvеmеnt wіth Thrаѕhеr dіd nоt lаѕt lоng, but hе dіd рlау оn twо ѕоngѕ frоm thе ѕеlf-tіtlеd LP, whісh hаѕ nоt rеlеаѕеd оn CD tо dаtе.

I spoke with Billy to discuss The Winery Dogs new Live CD/DVD and unreleased EP coming out on August 4th, 2017 and his current and future plans.

Congratulations on your new Winery Dogs Disc, it sounds great, you guys always sound great vibes [Thanks a million] I was going to ask you, was it the band’s idea to put out the live DVD or was it more like the record company?

BS: Well as far as with the Winery Dogs when we put things out, it was pretty much our decision. We had done one on the first tour, but we got kind of, at just launching the band and starting out and our first shows, there are a billion details to deal with. So what somebody managed to sneak into the deal was, they’ll be recording the first or second show you ever do in your lives, for a DVD. We thought of it when we got home was ‘Oh my God! We hadn’t even played the song live yet at all’ we had never performed it yet. So now we going to shoot the DVD, so ‘well, ok, here it goes, ’ and it came out pretty good though. At one point, I think one of us started the wrong song or mixed up one song with another, but we left it in, with mistakes and all, pimples and all, we left it together, and it did well, and people enjoyed it. So we thought ‘well next time we do it we will have something to do with not only when we do it but also where we do it’ because of the audiences in Japan, we love them, but sometimes they are a little sedated.  They just sit quietly and watch, you know, rather than being up and jumping up and down.

So ironically, the next tour that we did, after we had already booked the DVD shoot in Chile, the audience in Japan went crazy, they were out of their minds, it was hilarious. So I thought ‘Oh man we shouldn’t have done Japan again, ’ but we just spread it around a little bit. Fair enough, so we did the Santiago, Chile and the audience was spectacular. Any place in South America or Mexico, they are always fantastic and almost everywhere that we play the audiences always have a degree of that kind of enthusiasm. We did a show in Paris, and you could not fit another person in the building unless you would have cut them into pieces and stuff them in, (Chuckle) it was so crowded, and they went out of their minds. It was a fantastic duo. There were so many shows we thought ‘oh, we wish we had video taped that one.’ So, fortunately, Santiago was the show, and at the end, we said ‘thank goodness we decided to do the video here, ’ and we got I believe, an incredible night captured very well.

You guys have always sounded tight band just being a 3-person band.  Was the Winery Dogs an idea that Eddie Trunk threw at you guys just to line you up or was that more of a collaborative effort of you and Mike and Richie to do it?

BS:  Eddie was certainly impetuous for us to find Richie because of Mike and me, we wanted to do a band, and we talked with John Sykes. We did a couple of meetings, and there were a few demos, and I knew right away from the beginning that the chemistry just was not there. John’s a lovely guy and a fantastic player, but we weren’t all on the same page.  So we bid him a friendly farewell, all good, and then Mike said to me ‘do you know any singing guitar players?’ And I said ‘well, Jeez, let me think about it.’ And I don’t know why I didn’t think of Richie because I go up and jam with him when he plays here locally and we’ve worked together a lot. I did a tour with him in Japan in 2000 something, opening for the Stones, five shows in Japan, so I’ve played with him a lot, I know him a lot, he’s a dear friend. And I don’t know why it just blanked out on that and so Eddie Trunk said ‘you guys should get Richie Kotzen.’ Of course! Why didn’t I think of that? So sure enough, we got in touch with him, went over and had a little meeting, and here we are The Winery Dogs. So yes, Eddie certainly was instrumental in helping the band get together and also on top of it, as he does with so many bands, he’s such a great supporter of music and bands and players. He’s enriched musicians and the musical community significantly, with support and help and promotion and he’s a dear, a dear friend of ours, and we love him completely.

When you guys did your first album, did you demo it before you played it? Or did you guys just go in there like Mr. Big and it was done in like six days?

BS: It was done quickly. We did it in Richie’s studio, so he knew the studio well. And no, we didn’t demo anything. It was just kind of, once we knew what the song was and had played it through and had an idea of it, we may lay down several versions of it, but just so we had an idea of it so we could make sure and learn it and know it so that when we had to record it, we could perform it and record it, as opposed to trying just to try to remember it and record it. When you’re performing it, it’s way different than trying to remember something and manage to get it down on a recording. When you’re performing it, you’re free to move and move around musically and relax with it and experiment with it a little bit. You always get some special magic moment, and we did, we got a lot of special magic moments on that first record. So Lean Into It, Eat Em and Smile and the first Winery Dogs records are my top three that I’ve ever been involved with.

Did you guys do anything different with Hot Streak?

BS:  We did pretty much the same thing except we did the drums in an external studio, well a lot of stuff we did in the external studio. I think Richie’s was in the middle of construction and this thing and we decided to go to an outside studio, and that was a lot more mics and a lot more rooms and a lot more drums. When you leave, especially for Richie, when you leave your house and go somewhere to record, it’s a different vibe than when you’re sitting around in your house, and then you go to another room to record, because the phone isn’t ringing or people aren’t showing up, and you’re really concentrating more. We needed it too because we wanted it quick, and we wanted to move fast because for that type of pressure which brings about better music and also not to just spend unlimited cash in a studio when you don’t have to.

In the old days, that was kind of how it was you know. You didn’t have unlimited cash, you went in, you’d do your songs, they’d hit record, you’d be done, and that would be it. So the spirit of that is what we always try to get and so Hot Streak was very much like that.

How is it different working with Richie Kotzen who also sings, say versus working with Paul Gilbert on Mr. Big?

Well, they’re two separate people so two different finger prints, and DNA.  It is a whole different thing in many ways, and then again, there are similarities. I mean, it’s just two completely different styles of playing, and Richie is quite an accomplished singer, as good a lead singer act as it gets, honestly. And Paul has his world of supreme talent and ability that’s in his direction, Richie goes to his leadership and so I never really think about it, too much about the differences, but they are of course great talent.

Now regarding your playing, you have played with all the superstars, Steve Vai, and just about everybody. With the Winery Dogs live DVD out is there any talk of touring? Are you going to have to juggle the Winery Dogs and Mr. Big?

We did that on a ship one time. We did it on one of the Monster Rock Cruises. I did the Winery Dogs and Mr. Big, I did double duty, and it was cool, so I managed to pull it off. But no, right now we’re going to finish off this year with Mr. Big, and then we’ll decide what our schedule will be for Winery Dogs, how, when, where, what, and probably start writing at the end of the year.

For Winery Dogs I think we’re doing something smart up front, in my humble opinion anyway, not to be self-aggrandizing, but we’re not going just to do album tour, album tour and album tour. After Hot Streak we traveled all over the world, we had a great run. We said you know what? Let’s take some time and get inspired so that we come back; it will be fresh and new again. Pretty much like those first two records, because we were still learning each other and learned things about each other and coming up with ideas that were fresh. So when you spend 4 years together, 3 or 4 years together, it’s great to back off and then when you come in again it’s all fresh and new, we’ve all lived lives, Richie is off doing his thing now, Mike’s off doing his thing and I’m doing Mr. Big and a bunch of other stuff.

When we get back together again, we’ll have a whole big vocabulary of stories to tell as well as musical ideas that mean something to us rather than just forcing it out because the schedule says it’s time for a record and I think that’s a wise thing that we’re doing in the Winery Dogs, approaching it in that fashion. So I believe that we’re going to wait until the end of this year to start writing and I’m always writing anyway. So I’ve always got a couple of pieces of music that I’m working on that ‘this might work for Winery Dogs or ‘this might be a Mr. Big thingy’ or whatever. So we’re always at it.

Would you ever consider doing a solo album at this point in your career?

BS: I’ve done three, and I have the foundations for another one, but it’s just a matter of being able to get the time. And I think, who knows, at the end of this year when we’re writing for the Winery Dogs I just might be able to slip it in. I use the ear of a good buddy of mine on drums, he’s just a spectacular player, and hopefully, he’ll be done touring at that time too, and we’ll put something together. But yeah, I probably will again.

You are such an accomplished bass player, is there anything more that you would like to accomplish with the instrument that you haven’t?

BS:  Yeah, lots more. The adventure never ends, I mean I’m still learning every day, some new thing. I just want to do more; I want to play better, I want to play stylistically broader, I want to go back and revisit things I used to play years and years ago that I haven’t played for a long time, visit them and rehabilitate my ability to play them. I’ll go back and listen to things I played on the record, and I have no idea how I did that. So to relearn it again is like learning it brand new, all over again. So it’s always exciting. I don’t know what 100% would be, but I think I’m at 5% or 6% of what I’d like to accomplish on the instrument.

And then I hear some classical pianist yesterday on the classical radio where some 14-year-old girl from China sits down and goes through a Rock Mononoph, with blistering, mind blowing expertise and ability and I think to myself, who do I think I’m kidding? That’ is a real musician, so those are the people that I listen to inspire me when I hear something (unclear) I think man, I’m barely a beginner. And that’s not a false sense of modesty, it is true, underneath, there is no limit to how good you can get and I will relentlessly pursue it as long as I breathe.

That brings up the YouTube questions that I ask. Do you think the streaming services of YouTube have cheapened making music? I guess it seems like the mentality is everyone wants something for free now when you guys go ahead and work your butts off on an album?

BS:  I don’t think so; I believe that it’s a way for music to reach more people than ever before. I know many people sit down with YouTube and you scroll through, scroll through, scroll through, find great stuff, get inspired by it, play, listen, go out and see that band or that musician play live because we all know you can’t download a live performance. You can see a video or see it whatever, but there’s nothing like being in a room with people of liked minds and watching real performers that do it on stage, and that will never change. The virtual reality goggles or whatever else, it will never be like that. Maybe in a Thousand years, it might be, but I think we’ve got a good 400 or 500 until it starts to encroach upon that.

So, I don’t mind it; I think it’s a great thing; more music for more people in more ways. Yeah, there’s not much money in the record business anymore, but that’s ok. I’ve never been money motivated; I didn’t become a musician to get rich. I became a musician because I love playing music and there were girls. So that was, but no, in fact, that is probably half true with most players in the world. But anyway, it doesn’t bother me at all. I’m glad that there are more ways for more people to get more music. I’m quite an ‘aficionado’ of my iTunes, and I’ve got everything on my hard drive, at any given moment I can find anything from anywhere, somewhere in my collection. I’ve got about 2T of music in my music collection, and it’s glorious to sit down on Saturday night with a glass of wine and a bunch of friends and start scrolling through things and listening and inspiring, and it’s a great thing. So no, I’m not opposed. I was an early adaptor of all things digital, from the very beginning. So especially with recordings, digital recordings and the ease of it, and no longer being a slave to the tape machine and its idiosyncrasies, anybody with a laptop now can make a record that’s as good or better than what you could do in a 10 Million dollar studio in the 70s or the 80s. So it’s evened the playing field in a lot of ways.

And similar to desktop Publishing, when that first began everyone was bemoaning the idea that ‘wow, there are going to be so many writers, writing so many books, we’ll have like thousands of great books every year. We won’t even know what to pick from’. No, the same amount of books, good books were written before desktop Publishing and after it. Sure enough with music, everybody that has got a laptop has the equivalent, again, to a Ten Million dollar studio back 30 years ago. You would think everybody would be putting out these amazing records, but no, the same amount of good music comes out, just about every year, the same number rises to the top, and it’s pretty even. So I think that the digital recording revolution levels the playing field and it gives everybody a chance. But it’s interesting to see that there’s still that same amount of talent out there, as there was before that too. So I think it’s a fair representation and you’ll see the hits and likes of any particular piece of music or whatever, how popular it gets. People are getting good at tracking down the things they like and finding it and pursuing it, and the digital revolution will spread it everywhere.

You just did a reunion with Talas?

Three days ago.  Yeah, we posted it all over the slide footage. There’s footage of me with the GoPro camera on my headstock, and it’s all over the place. But it was the Version 2 Talas. There were 2 Talas (unclear) of the three piece band, mostly in Buffalo and then the four piece band that went on and toured quite a bit more in the USA. Most people know the 4-piece Version for which we just had a reunion for the first time in 32 years, but we’ve had a few reunions with the Buffalo Version, back in Buffalo, starting in ’97 that we did a few through the years, but they don’t play anymore (the guys in Buffalo), so we got together with Version 2, did a benefit for the fire department near Rochester New York, and we had a spectacular time.

I know you’ve been asked these hundreds of times but, is there any word from David Lee Roth about a reunion?

BS:  Haven’t heard, I’m ready if he decides to do it. I’m willing to go, I would love to play with him in any capacity, so it’s really up to him, it’s his thing, it’s his decision, and I respect him for that. I would be forever grateful to date for having him bring me to LA, start a band with me, Eat ‘em Smile. He’s still my hero and playing with him in that is like getting my Ph.D. in showbiz 101, and it was an incredible experience. So I sure hope we do it some day, who knows? I haven’t heard a thing, but I always try to be an optimist.

I know with the Winery Dogs, and you’re playing out with Mr. Big till the end of the year, is there anybody that you have not worked with that you’d like to?

BS:  Amazingly, not actually. The only guy I had such a passion for is Paco De Lucia, a favorite guitarist but he passed away a few years ago and also Rory Gallagher who died long ago. He was one of my all time favorites. So, I’ve been lucky to play with most of everybody that I wanted to. Of course, there’s a lot more guys out there that I’m sure our paths will cross, but I’m very very lucky, and I’m supremely grateful for everything that has happened to me in music, life, and career. And playing with some amazing musicians have certainly been many of the high points.

Well, Billy, you’re a fantastic player yourself.

BS: That’s very kind of you, thank you. I’ll try to live up to that.

How do you feel when someone says you’re one of the best bass players today?

BS:  Well, I am of course grateful and appreciative. In my mind, I do view things differently though. I am the one that’s on the inside looking out so I’m always thinking about that mistake or that something I can’t do or slumming that one part of that one song and so I’m always climbing another mountain and not looking back at any moment, but I may have climbed intentionally or inadvertently. I, of course, appreciate it, and there are so many incredible musicians on every instrument, so it’s hard to pick best. It’s like which is better, blue or green? It’s a different color, it’s a different thing, so I understand that, but for someone to make that kind of statement, it being in an email or a comment or to me in person, I, of course, appreciate it, more than I can express and I’m very grateful for that.

And it also inspires me to do better because I want to make sure that if somebody feels that way about me, I keep my game level. Well, you can’t ever keep it level; you’ve always got to be improving it. Because the world moves ahead and if you’re not moving ahead of it then you’re dropping behind. So I’m always working. Yesterday at my rehearsal room with no air conditioner, no window, it was hot and sweaty, but I was playing bass, and I had a riot, and it was great. And today I’ll do similar and work at, work stuff out and come up with new things.

I’ve got a recording session coming up in a few days with some impossible licks on it. See, unfortunately sometimes when people think highly of you, they throw things at you that they’re sure you can do, but they’re impossible. So there’s a baseline in this song by Japanese artists that I just spent the better part of the morning learning the first 5 seconds of it, and so I’ll be hitting it again for a few more hours then I’m going to record it on the 26th. They expect me to walk in, sit down and rip through it and so my reputation precedes me, unfortunately. So I have to work twice as hard on this to make sure and get it right. I know they’ll be videotaping and filming and everything too, so I‘ve got to know my stuff when I walk in there, it’s a tough one. There’s another side to that.

Do you have any performances planned with Steve Vai?

BS: No no, but Steve and I are good friends, anytime he needs me, he gives me a call, I’m happy to play anytime, any how. When we get together, it’s like we’ve never left. We get to jam. I went up and jammed with his band when he came to LA a couple of months back (unsure) got up with him and played a show. Or played a song rather and it’s always cool. Yeah, Steve’s the greatest, and I love him very much. He’s like a brother to me, and we have some musical things in common through the years.

Now, just in closing, I know you’ve got Mr. Big for the rest of the year. Do you have anything surprising in the works that you can’t talk about, but maybe you can hint at or is it just Mr. Big?

BS: Well without the band, I’m involved with what’s called the Fell, and it’s the guys from Smashmouth, and we have quite an incredible record that accidentally happened. He called me last summer; I was just sitting around ‘Hey, my name is Mike, and I used to play with Smashmouth, and we just did a soundtrack, could you come down and lay some bass on it?’ ‘I was like sure.’ We talked, I played some bass, it sounded great. Cool, few more, a couple more ‘could you do a few more?’ ‘Yeah sure.’ Then he said ‘well you know what, I’m thinking about maybe doing a record. I’ll pay your studio time, or if you want you to be on the record we could do like that’. I said ‘Hey I’ll save you some money; you don’t have to pay me. If there’s a record, we’ll deal with that, and if not, we’re cool’. So sure enough, a year later, this album sounds great, and we put out one single and video, and it was exploding all over the place.

So a good problem to have now is how do I squeeze that into the schedule also. But I’d rather have that problem than not have enough work and not have enough things to do and the more bands that I’m associated with means, the more likely I am to be performing live on stage for more nights, and I live to play live. So this is another opportunity for me to play and so I’m very pleased that more of those are on the way and I want to make sure there’s interest on it.



Winery Dogs New Live DVD On Amazon

Vivian Campbell: “I Was Fired From Dio And The Dio Disciples Are A Tribute Band!”

By Andrew Catania

(This interview was originally published on November 9th, 2016)

The 1980’s turned out to be a great era for the global music industry. This period could be rendered as the time when some remarkable talents emerged and made their mark in their respective genres, revolutionizing old school and contemporary approaches through their penchant for experimentations and innovative techniques. In the midst of them all, Vivian Campbell, aka The Journeyman, the North Irish, Belfast, rock and metal sensation outshines in the most important category of the musicians of the mighty 80s.

Having set his fingers on the chords at the tender age of 12, the bond Campbell developed with guitars in his childhood only strengthened over time as he practiced and learned the intricacies of the strings and chords. By the time Campbell set his feet in the professional music domain at the platform of Sweet Savage, despite being an amateur in the pool of professionals and maestros, he made a quick and promising start of his professional career.

Two years later, he bid farewell to Sweet Savage and joined Dio as the main guitarist, substituting Jake E. Lee. Although Vivian’s association with the Dio only brought in more success and fame to the band, the collaboration didn’t last for long, and Campbell eventually parted his way in 1986.

Whitesnake turned out to be the next milestone in his career. However, the association became even more short-lived than what he had with the Dio. Vivian worked with some music groups later only to make a breakthrough in his career, as he joined Def Leppard in 1992, replacing their deceased guitarist Steve Clark.

The association turned out to be incredibly symbiotic for the band as well as Vivian. The void created by Clark was efficiently filled by Campbell for good, who proved his mettle in his debut performance with Def Leppard. Not looking back since, the band, with Vivian Campbell on board, delivered a fiery performance at the stage of ‘Freddie Mercury Concert for Life.’ Vivian’s association with Def Leppard made an incredible addition to his profile, with last hit records like Retro Active (1993), Slang (1996), Euphoria (1999), X (2002), Yeah! (2006), Songs from the Sparkle Lounge (2008), Mirror Ball – Live and More (2011), Viva! Hysteria (2013), and Def Leppard (2015).

Besides casting his spell at Def Leppard’s platform, Vivian Campbell also worked over his solo ventures and released his personal album titled ‘Two Sides of If,’ featuring some interesting cover editions. He also convinced Jimmy Bain, Vinny Appice, and Andrew Freeman, the former Dio members, to reform and launch their own ‘Last in line, an American heavy metal band, in 2012. The band released their album Heavy Crown in 2016.

Vivian Campbell’s’ music career can be summarized as being punctuated with historic highs and lows, yet the maestro only excelled at his expertise through consistent dabs of style, finesse, versatility, and creativity. Vivian Campbell has managed to maintain his charm and vigor with an evergreen and unforgettable personality. At present, he is suffering from Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and is under intense treatment through stem cell therapy and regular courses of immune therapies. However, with his natural liveliness that is a signature hallmark of his playing style, he is optimistic to tame the disease and looks forward to doing more stints in his career profile.


How is the Last in Line Tour going?
It’s not a tour yet.  We’ve been weekend warriors for the last couple of weekends.  We did three shows Friday, Saturday, and Sunday and then the following week we did the same just on the west coast out here.  It doesn’t feel like we’re on tour yet, but we will be because we are heading to Europe on Tuesday for a solid month worth of shows over there.  So, that will feel more like the real thing.  The six shows that we have completed through here on the west coast that is evolving significantly.  The response is fantastic, and it’s very encouraging.  We need to get out and play more.  I read a lot on social media people want to see us play in Texas, out west, Detroit, Canada, New Jersey and New York you know.  It’s difficult on this level when you’re playing clubs.  Exceptionally difficult from an economic point of view.  I’m not even talking about making any money; I’m talking about not losing your shirt for the privilege.  We’ll try to do something in 2017.  Def Leppard’s not going to be too busy next year, so I’ll have a bit more time, and hopefully, we’ll be able to put something else together.  Like I said the economics of it are complicated.

I can imagine because you do not have any Florida dates on here, I kept looking.  The Last in Line album that I mean, Jimmy Baine RIP, that album rocked!  As soon as it came out, l was like this had it, it just did, it reminded me of you, Vinny Appice, I forgot how you pronounce it

They both pronounce it. Differently Carmine says Appice (A-peace) and Vinny says Appice (Ap-pacie)

What I was saying

Yeah, that means that the record was great! We were pleased with how it came out and the response to it apparently, you know, Jimmy passing away when he did, that was a major blow to us.  We had a tour planned.  You know a pretty comprehensive North American club tour was in place for March, April, and May of this year.  When Jimmy passed away we immediately just canceled those plans apparently.  It took us a little while to regroup and rethink what it was we wanted to do, and in the end, we felt that we owed it to Jimmy, and we owed it to ourselves to do something with the record because it did so well.  You know we had incredible responses as I said.  This record meant a lot to Jimmy.  He put his heart and soul into it.  You know something that ticked me off when Jimmy died was that so many people immediately jumped to the conclusion that his past was associated with his addictions and that wasn’t the case at all.  For the last year and a half or two years of Jimmy’s life, he was very sober, and he was very focused.  Being in this band, writing and recording this album was his focus in the last couple years of his life, and it meant a lot to him.  And Jimmy felt like it was his band.  He was very creatively involved in it.  He even went out and got a Last in Line tattoo.  It was the only tattoo he had.  So, you know it was hurtful that a lot of people just jumped to that conclusion that he died because of his former addictions.  His addiction, he won that battle. Finally, you know.

Well, that’s too bad.  I liked Jimmy a lot.  He was on all the Dio albums and like I said when your Last in Line album came out there was a great response to it.  Do you feel like, I don’t know if the word redemption is the exact word I’m looking for but do you think that with this album you’re kind of getting some closure you think of previous Dio albums where you thought, I just read that you didn’t get individual credit for writing stuff and all that?  Do you think this is kind of redemption for that because the other albums didn’t sound so fantastic?

Well, Yes.  It does make it clear that the sound of the band is the result of some of the parts, you know.  The band was called DIO for obvious reasons.  I mean Ronnie was the damaged one.  It wouldn’t have made any sense to call it Appice or Campbell.  It’s a long story that whole Dio thing.

I got you

Let me just back up by saying none of this happened, this Last in Line project it happened by accident at the time.  This wasn’t an intentional thing.  It just grew out of a jam.  One thing led to another and even when we were first starting several years ago when we were first starting playing shows as Last in Line we were just doing the songs that we had written and recorded with Ronnie from the first three Dio albums.  Our intentions were very much just a fun side project.  We weren’t thinking about writing and recording music.  It was only when Frontier Records approached us in 2013 they offered us a record deal.  They asked if we’d be interested in writing and recording the music.  Honestly up to that point we had never even thought of it.  That’s when we sat down, and we talked and decided that that would be the next natural progression you know.  So, went about writing the record and recording very much in the way we had gotten with Holy Diver with Ronnie and that’s not to say that we were trying to make a record that sounded like Holy Diver, but we wanted to set up similar parameters.  When the band Dio was formed, Ronnie had one and a half songs.  He had the title track Holy Diver, and he had half the idea of a song that would go on to become Don’t Talk to Strangers.  The rest of the album was written with Jimmy, Vinny and I.  The way that it was written is that we would go into a rehearsal room and that was usually just Vinny and Jimmy and myself.  We’d go into the room in the afternoon, and I would have an idea for a riff or Jimmy would have an idea for a riff or if neither of us had an idea to start with Vinny would just play a beat and I’d always find Vinny Appice, the most inspiring drummer I’ve ever played with.  When Vinny plays, even if I don’t have anything to bring to the party, we’d just jam something that would come up with an incredible idea for a song.  So, that’s how a lot of the early Dio songs were written, and that’s how everything on the Heavy Crown album was written they all grew out of jams, and we don’t sweat it much, we don’t think much about what kind of song we want to write or what direction we want the album to go in.  There’s none of that bullshit.  There’s no preconceived notion of what the records were going to be.  It’s just if somebody has an idea we just go with it we don’t think about it a lot it’s very straightforward organic hard rock music.  Going back to the Holy Diver album, Ronnie would come in in the evening, and we’d play him what we had, and sometimes he would say, “no I don’t hear that” or other times he would say “ok, that sounds good.”  He always had books with lyrics, he’d sit down and listen to what we had, and we’d play it for him a couple of times he’d step up to the mic, and he’d start singing.  Other times he would start changing the arrangement and say I hear this part saying this, so we’d start rearranging the building blocks of it, but it all happened very quickly.  Within a couple of days, we’d have a song written and then when we came to the recording of the Holy Diver record it was again very organic we cut the tracks live, guitar, bass, drums, Ronnie singing a scratch vocal, I double the rhythm track, we’d do the lead vocal, do the guitar solo, bang!  The mix was done.  There are very few mix embellishments on the record.  We also did much of the Heavy Crown album the same way.  We recorded tracks live; I’d double the rhythm track, we’d do a couple of minor guitar embellishments here and there.  I’d do the solo, and we’d do the vocal, and away we’d go.  Also, when we went in to do the Heavy Crown record, it meant that we had parted ways with Claude Schnell, the original keyboard player.  Again, because we were going back to the way we approached the Holy Diver record and Claude was not part of the band when we wrote and recorded Holy Diver. Ronnie brought him in at the end of the record, and that’s when the keyboard embellishments were done.  Even the keyboard in Rainbow in The Dark that was Jimmy Bain that played that, he wrote it, so keyboards were not part of the creative process of the early Dio band.  In fact, they only became so in the Sacred Heart album.  That was the first time that we wrote with Claude.  I don’t think it’s any coincidence that Jimmy, Vinny and I that’s when we were having issues creatively with Ronnie.  We kind of all felt that Ronnie was trying to bring keyboards into the sound of Dio too much that we were getting away from the original guitar, drums, vocal vibe of the original Dio band.  None of us had particularly good feelings about the Sacred Heart album, but there were also a lot of business things going on with Ronnie then.  Ronnie was in a very dark place when we were doing Sacred Heart that’s when he was divorcing from Wendy.  He was miserable; he was very moody.  Nobody wanted to be in the studio when we were making that record.  We all would just go in do our parts and leave which was very different from Holy Diver and Last in Line records where we were very much all encouraging each other we were all in the studio all day every day.  It was very much a group effort, but that is the assigned job with all of this.  You know a lot of people were wondering why we parted ways with Claude, which was the major component that we wanted to clear it with our keyboards.  It was important to Jimmy, Vinny and I that we did. Apparently, that made a difficult situation for Claude.  When we did the Heavy Crown album, we just wanted to approach it in the writing and recording aspect and very much as we had done in the Holy Diver and the original Last in Line record with Ronnie.


Well, it does, it sounds phenomenal.  You left DIO back in what ’86?  I saw you on the Holy Diver tour


I think it was ’85. We had gone tour for Sacred Heart, and we had done the first leg of the tour which was a North American tour although I think it was the second leg of North America where Craig Goldy perform.  We finished the first leg of the tour of North America, and we were supposed to start in the UK, and I GOT FIRED in the transition, and they brought in Craig Goldy.  I think it was ’85 sometime.   I would like to make emphasis on the point that I was fired from the band.  So many people here 30 something years later people still think that I left DIO, I didn’t leave DIO.  It was never my intention to leave the band.  I was fired from the band.  The reason I was fired from the band was that I refused to accept a contract that they offered me which was contrary to the original agreement Ronnie had made with Jimmy, Vinny and myself when the band was first formed.  Wendy had different ideas for how it was going to be, and for me, it was a matter of principle, and I refused to sign the contract, and that’s why I was fired.

Ok.  I had read so much back when Metal Edge was around that time and Hit Parader we read so many kinds of different stuff that you were fired, that you quit 

Back then there were no social media, so the only way for me to counter what the DIO camp was putting out in the press was for me to hire a publicist to get out my side of the story.  I couldn’t have afforded to do that back then and obviously; I didn’t.  That’s one of the things that hurt me because not only was I fired from the band I put my heart and soul into for three albums, but I would think the stain in the press that I was the one that turned my back on the band.  It was absolutely 100% untrue, so that left a bitter taste in my mouth for many many years which is why I didn’t want anything to do with DIO or the band or even that genre of music for so long.  You know I’ll admit that I was foolish for saying some very hurtful things in the press, as was Ronnie, we both said some unnecessary and nasty shit about each other, but you know you do that when you’re hurt.

Yes, I understand.   A lot of people 30 years later like Guns & Roses and all them are reuniting and all, they put everything behind them.  Do you think if Ronnie was alive, do you think you could do the same and reunite?

I think Ronnie and me fundamentally never had a problem.  I don’t believe we would have ever worked again if Wendy Dio was involved in his career.  Wendy was the one who was never on the same page as the rest of us.  She never saw us as being a band.  Wendy always thought like ten Ozzy Osbourne’s she saw it as Ronnie and his backing band.  She didn’t care who was in Ronnie’s band.  She’s not musical.  She doesn’t know that the sign of a great band is the sum of the parts.  It’s not just about the singer.  You know it would have been one thing to put Ronnie out on tour behind a bunch of fierce fewer musicians if Ronnie was the one who created all the music in the first place.  That was never the point, Ronnie never did.  We created it as a band look at the writing credits on any of the first three DIO records, yes there’s a couple of songs like Don’t Talk to Strangers and Holy Diver like I said that was Ronnie’s songs, everything else we wrote together and in fact, you know I could go on.  Jimmy Bain and I we wrote, we rocked.  Ronnie was not a guitar player; he didn’t write those riffs. We didn’t get credit for a lot of the songs we wrote, and that’s all well and good.  I’m not bitching or anything like that that is water under the bridge.  We very very much created as a band and that’s what made those first records so special. Wendy doesn’t understand that she’s not a musician.  Ronnie knew that.  That’s why when the band was formed there were four people in the room, and Wendy Dio was not one of them.  Me and Jimmy and Vinny and Ronnie and Ronnie made a promise to us that by the third album Sacred Heart we would have an equity situation at that point, we got none of the records, none of the tour receipts, none of the t-shirts, none of the mechanicals.  We got paid less than the road crew which was awkward.  Somewhere along the way Ronnie kind of lost sight of that.  Wendy pushed him toward being a solo act.  The original DIO band was not a solo act.  The original DIO band was a four-piece creative unit, and Wendy never understood that.  So, Ronnie and I, I think would have been fine.  Hypothetically if somebody else, if Ronnie had a proper manager and not his ex-wife, I would have never been fired from the band and Ronnie, and I would’ve never had an issue.  I mean our relationship was always a little catchy.  It was an awkward relationship.  We didn’t communicate very well together on a personal level but on a musical level we worked together.  We worked well.  So, to answer your question, would I have gotten back together with Ronnie? Yes, but Wendy Dio never would have never allowed it to happen if she was involved in his career.  Right up until his death she was involved in his career, I’m going to go with No on that.

Did you write any credits to We’re Stars where everybody got together?  Did you write anything about that?  Did you write any of the leads or anything?

Jimmy Bain and I wrote the music for that.  It was while we were doing the Sacred Heart album.  We brought it to Ronnie and like I said when we were doing Sacred Heart earlier Ronnie was in a very dark, very stressed place in his lifetime.   So, we brought this idea to Ronnie to do this project I asked him to help us and would he write the lyrics.  At first Ronnie said no then he changed his mind and he came back to us later and he agreed he would be involved in the project and it was at that point that Wendy took over a lot of the management of the Stars project and took it away from Jimmy and me which is ok because we needed that official sort of DIO involvement for us to make it happen.  It would have never happened without that.  Yes, Ronnie wrote the lyrics, Jimmy and I wrote the music.


Having all that immense talent coming in there, you’ve had everybody from George Lynch; you had Yngwie Malmsteen you had all them.  Then you had I know that Wendy has talked about remastering that.  That’s one of the soundtracks that I’ve been after for years, and you can’t find them except for in Japan for like $500.00.  Have you heard anything about that?  Or is it kind of a conversation you’re not privileged to?

Yes, Wendy took it over.  My involvement in the project stopped like I said we wrote the songs and took them to Ronnie.  I worked the phones extensively with our lady who was a deal publicist back then, and I utilized her connections, and I’d go to her office every day, and I’d get on the phone, and I’d call people.  I’d be calling people I never met in my life you know, “Hi my name is Vivian Campbell, I play guitar for Dio” I had my whole schpeel done, tell them what we’re doing.  I’d ask if they can get involved in it.  So, we did, my involvement with the entire project ended that night after we had done the recording session.  That was it, from that point on I had nothing to do with it.

You’re Last in Line, you have the Dio Disciples which Wendy manages.


Is there any or was there any comparisons?  Did anybody give you any flack about Last in Line? Because of the Dio Disciples, have they said that Wendy’s involvement makes them “Official.”

Well, I know that it’s more official if Wendy Dio manages that band or the original DIO band put a real band together when we started doing the Last in Line project I had to go to extremes sometimes to explain to people the difference between the Dio Disciples and us.  Dio Disciples are a tribute band.  No one in that band was part of the original DIO band, no one! Not like one person.    Where on Last in Line you had 75% of the original DIO band.  People were referring to us as a tribute band you cannot be a tribute band if you are the original band. Obviously, Andrew Freeman is not Ronnie.  So, it’s not the original DIO band which is why we didn’t call it DIO obviously

Andrew Freeman knows his thing 

It’s a good thing.  It’s technically incorrect to refer to Last in Line as a tribute band.  We cannot be a tribute band because we are the original DIO members.  The group superseded all that once we started writing and recording music it became something very very different

When you got fired and then joined Whitesnake how did that go?  Did David Coverdale call you up?  

No.  The Whitesnake band was put together by John Kalodner; he was an analog guy for Geffen Records back in the ’80’s.  In a nutshell, the album was written by John Sykes and David Coverdale.  The album was recorded, and John Sykes played all but one of the guitar solos on the record.  John Sykes played 97% guitar on the album to pick a figure or something like that, but he and Coverdale parted ways.  So basically, they brought in some session musicians to finish off the record.  They sweetened it; they could hear real potential.  They brought in a keyboard guy and did several different mixes for certain singles and stuff.  It was a very well-orchestrated camp, and they knew they had a big record on their hands, and they find themselves in the situation where they didn’t have a band it was the zenith of the MTV era you know where they had the hair metal. John Kolodner had the idea to put together a superstar band that would-be image driven, video group.  So, the first thing, he called me and asked me if I’d be interested, and he sent me a copy of the record, and as soon as I heard the record, I knew it was going to be huge.  It’s monster playing and writing from John Sykes.

John’s a great player.  Very underrated too 

He is, yes! People to this day don’t even realize that’s his record that’s his writing and his playing.  Not mine, not Adrian Vandenberg.  I feel sorry for him because he is missing the credit for that.  It was a great record; it went to number 1 in the U.S.  and sold gazillion copies, the tour was immensely successful.  With the band, the first thing we did was we met on a video set, and we shot a couple of videos over the period of a few days, and then we went into rehearsal and started playing together.  On paper, we were an excellent musical unit regarding pedigree but in my opinion and I do not mean this to be offensive in any way shape or form but I don’t think that we gelled on a musical level certainly not like the original DIO band.  That was real chemistry.  When Vinny and Jimmy and I played together right from the first moment, we played together in London in 1982 when I auditioned there was an immediate chemistry to the original DIO band that was undeniable.  When I played with Vinny and Jimmy again in 2011 for the first time in 27 years that chemistry was immediate again.  I don’t believe that Whitesnake lineup ever had that chemistry.  We were brought together despairingly to make music videos, and I think that set the tone in a way we were more of a performance band than we were a solid musical group and that has nothing to do with the pedigree of the performers.  I mean Tommy Aldridge, Rudy Sarzo and Adrian Vandenberg, Coverdale and myself I mean every one of us has a pedigree and experiences, but I don’t feel we ever had that magic and musical connection and like I said I don’t say that to sound disrespectful to the other guys in the band in any way because that’s not what I mean.  I just say for nine years it just never gelled as a unit on a musical level.

Wasn’t your solo remixed in the Give Me All Your Love video?  

Yes.  That’s the only thing I recorded with Whitesnake.  We went in and mixed that track.  I did a guitar solo on it.  By then what was supposed to be the follow-up album that’s when the wheels were starting to fall off.  I knew.  David was writing with Adrian, and they had a good thing going on together, and that’s David came and said he was going to write the record with Adrian and from that point on I could tell that I didn’t have a future in the band.  I wasn’t going to be in a group that I couldn’t participate in, but I fully respected his decision to want to write with Adrian.  They had a connection that David and I didn’t so be it

It sounds like Jake E Lee with Ozzy Osbourne he didn’t get any credit on those albums like you did with DIO it’s just the similarities your telling me it sounds like with Sharon on Ozzy and Jake on those couple of albums 

Yes, I’ve heard a lot from other people who have worked with Ozzy as well that the Osbourne’s do that a lot.  Have you write songs for them and you sign it away.  It’s a timeworn school concept, not something I agree with.  I don’t think it makes for good music.  I believe that you must keep your employee’s happy if you know what I mean.  People must feel like there a part of something to bring out the best in them.  That’s why the early DIO records were much more vital because even though Jimmy and Vinny and I got nothing, and I mean absolutely nothing from those early records we were promised that by the third record we would.  So, we were working towards it.  We were a team we were in the trenches together.  Like I said nobody left the studio early.  We were all encouraging one another, bringing out the best of each other, making suggestions.  By the time we got to Sacred Heart, it was evident that that wasn’t going to materialize.  What had been promised to us was not going to happen that’s when it started to go sour.  You know when we did the Heavy Crown record with Andrew we split everything on that record twenty-five percent for each guy.  It doesn’t matter who had the idea for a song where it started or who contributed what it’s a full four-way split on that record and that’s part of the reason I honestly believe it’s an excellent record because everyone is in it together.  When you’re working as a team you bring your best; you bring your A-game when you know you’re writing a song for someone, and he’s not even going to put your name on it you’re less inclined to want to bring your A-game.  Even like a song We Rock where Jimmy and I we be involved in that song but we have no writing credit in it we were kind of ok with that at the time because we had writing credit on other songs on the record and us still trying to work toward the end goal that Ronnie had promised us you know.  It’s unfortunate that it didn’t turn out to be, but it’s part of the pitfalls of the music industry.

True.  When you worked with Lou Graham, and then you did your Riverdogs album did you have input there?  Was that entirely different creativity for you?  

Riverdogs is a very different project.  Everyone wrote in Riverdogs, but the majority of the songs in Riverdogs were already written by Rob Lamothe when I got involved with the band when I first worked with Riverdogs it was as a producer.  I was producing demos for them.  They already had a guitar player.  It was never my intentions to join the band, in fact, I was with Whitesnake when I first started working with them, but it was one of those things where the Whitesnake thing was starting to fall apart, and Riverdogs were losing patience with their guitar player and I ended up segwaying into that band.  So yes, that was a very different thing.


How do you like the current state with Def Leppard?  Are you enjoying doing that?  

Well, it’s been 25 years.  Def Leppard is a unique band in every aspect.  How the band creates.  How the band performs live.  You know I’m still the new guy.  I’m going to be forever the Ronnie Wood of Def Leppard.  You know Ronnie Wood’s been in the Stones for close to 40 years, and I’ve been 25 years with Leppard.  It’s a very different challenge for me being in Def Leppard.  It’s challenged me as a songwriter to grow and to think in a variety of ways.  I’ve learned an awful lot from being in the band.  It’s challenged me as a singer.  I’ve become much more proficient vocally than I ever was.  That was important to me.  I always wanted to sing.  I didn’t do that with DIO, but from everything after DIO, Whitesnake, Riverdogs, Def Leppard I’ve been very active as a singer and Def Leppard is a big challenge for me on the singing.  That’s the big challenge for all of us.  There are so many intense vocals in each song that Def Leppard does it’s kind of cathartic to me in a different kind of muscle that I exercise when I go on stage with Last in Line because Last in Line I do not sing at all.  I just play guitar, and it’s very challenging guitar to me in Last in Line to play the original DIO songs.  To play the songs from the Heavy Crown album.  It’s a very different muscle that I’m exercising than when I’m on stage with Def Leppard.  Def Leppard is an incredible band, and I was always a fan even from the early day’s way before I knew Joe way before I became part of the group.  I was very much a Def Leppard fan, and I followed them in their career since day one, so it was quite a privilege to be able to join the band back in ’92

My last question, how is your health?  Are you doing alright?

It’s a work in progress.  I mean it’s as good as it can be.  Sometimes it’s one step forward, two steps back but I’m happy with where I am right now.  The kind of treatment I am doing right now is called Immunotherapy, and I’m taking a drug called Pembrolizumab which is the same thing that cured Jimmy Carter’s melanoma.  I’m taking that as part of a clinical trial.  It’s FDA approved.  I’ve been on it for a year and a half.  At the very least it is holding my tumors where they are, and it might even be slowly starting to shrink them.  I can do the treatment for about another 7 to 8 months so by summer of next year I’m going to have to possibly consider doing something else because I don’t think it’s going to cure it but at least I can continue to work with this treatment.  There are minimal side effects.  It’s not like doing chemo or anything its very benign very easy and the schedule is enough where it allows me to work I just must come back to LA every 3 or 4 weeks to do the infusions.  So, for now, it’s good.  Next summer I don’t know I might have to do radiation or something, combination therapy.  I don’t know.  That’s going to be next summer’s problem

I wish you the best like I said I would give some prayers on I hope a full recovery.  

Thank you, Andrew,

You need a solo record out there too!

Well I know between Riverdogs and Def Leppard, there’s not a lot of time for that.  Plus, my health.  I got to jump. Nice to talk to you!

The Scorching Riffs of John Sykes

By Andrew Catania

John Sykes is a clear-cut reflection of the closest thing to a living legend. In his extraordinary existence of 57 years, he has already played with Streetfighter, Tygers of Pan Tang, John Sloman’s Badlands, Thin Lizzy, Whitesnake, and Blue Murder. Apart from playing with such a multitude of artists, he has also created his own legacy by undertaking a career as a solo artist. As of 2013, he had produced 4 solo albums and is currently working on the 5th, which is said to consist of over 30 new recordings.

Sykes had his first taste in heavy metal at the age of 21 when he joined the Tygers of Pan Tang in 1980 as the second guitarist for two of their albums: Spellbound and Crazy Nights. Spellbound was rated as one of the best albums released that year by AllMusic and given a sturdy 8/10 by the Collector’s Guide to Heavy Metal.

However, the success was short-lived as Crazy Nights barely made the half mark cut from reviewers. After the failure of Crazy Nights with Tygers of Pan Tang, John Sykes decided to move on to Badlands – a new band started by John Sloman.

Since then, it was clear that Sykes would go places since he continued to progress his career by moving on to the next big project. Whenever there was a drop in the reviews for his current work or when he felt that his career was no longer growing, he would decide to pursue the next chapter.

According to Eddie Trunk, John really took his time on all his new pieces and was conservative in his approach. It is nothing but this dedication to the deliberate pursuit of his art that led the esteemed critic Mick Wall to write that the album Coverdale wrote with Sykes wasn’t just the best Whitesnake album – but was also the best rock album of the era. It was the fact that Sykes was a part of Whitesnake that even led the critic Mick Wall to enjoy Whitesnake in the first place. Whitesnake, the self-titled album released by the band and co-written with Sykes reached #2 on the billboard 200 chart and sold over eight million albums.
Although Sykes is a guitarist, he has been proven an excellent lyricist and has even recorded rare vocals. His multi-dimensional talent scope has left even the most hardened critic in awe of his capability as a musician.  Hopefully, we’ll see more of John Sykes in 2017.


Kee Marcello’s New Record Scaling Up

By Andrew Catania



Kee Marcello might not be a name you’d recognize to the average rock listener.  Kee has an impressive resume behind him.  He’s a TV personality in Sweden.  He was a guitarist for the multi-platinum band Europe.  During their heyday, Europe’s soft rock sound sold millions of albums and toured the world with acts like Bon Jovi.

Scaling up‘ shows off the talent of Kee Marcello as a singer, guitarist, producer and song writer.  The first song, ‘Black Hole Star‘,  has catchy riffs, and Kee’s voice sounds very similar to Richie Kotzen.

Songs like ‘Wild Child‘, I can hear John Sykes-ish vocals, and Ritchie Kotzen on others.  If you’re a fan of melodic rock and roll, catchy riffs, good song writing and music that you’ll turn up with your windows down, ‘Scaling up‘ is the record for you.



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