After the tragic death of their classic guitarist Steve Clark back in 1991 at the age of 30, Def Leppard auditioned some guitar players to replace him. The former Dio member Vivian Campbell was the chosen one but the Iron Maiden guitarist Adrian Smith had also auditioned for the band at the time. He had left the Heavy Metal band in 1990 and only returned in 1999 alongside the vocalist Bruce Dickinson.
In an interview with Eonmusic, the longtime Def Leppard guitarist Phil Collen recalled those auditions, talking about Smith.
“We invited five people we knew, five friends, and Vivian just fitted in straight away. It was like it was meant to be. Adrian’s great, [and] he’s a great singer, and that was one of the other things [we were looking for]; if you can sing.
“There was some other people. We played with John Sykes, also an amazing player, amazing singer, but Vivian’s voice was just unbelievable. But more than that, he just fit in the style of what we do.”
“With Adrian, he played in context with what we were doing when we were rehearsing. I mean, we were doing Def Leppard songs, we weren’t doing Iron Maiden songs, we weren’t doing Dio songs. So, whoever comes into our house has to play by the same rules.”
“Like I said, there was only five people; we didn’t do casting calls or anything like that. It was still a bit painful after losing Steve, to be totally honest, so we wanted someone who emotionally, we could work with as a family member, and Viv did, straight off the bat,” Phil Collen said.
Vivian Campbell is still a member of the group after 31 years and recorded seven studio albums with the band.
I'm a Brazilian journalist who always loved Classic Rock and Heavy Metal music. That passion inspired me to create Rock and Roll Garage over 6 years ago. Music has always been a part of my life, helping me through tough times and being a support to celebrate the good ones. When I became a journalist, I knew I wanted to write about my passions. After graduating in journalism from the Pontifical Catholic University of Minas Gerais, I pursued a postgraduate degree in digital communication at the same institution. The studies and experience in the field helped me improve the website and always bring the best of classic rock to the world! MTB: 0021377/MG