Wendy Dio clarifies Vivian Campbell was not paid less than road crew in Dio & Ronnie James Dio “not cheap”
Legendary singer Ronnie James Dio‘s widow Wendy Dio was recently interviewed by Jimmy Kay and Alan Dixon for Canada’s The Metal Voice. Wendy Dio was promoting Ronnie James Dio‘s long-awaited autobiography Rainbow In The Dark: The Autobiography, which was completed after the singer passed away and which was released on July 27, 2021.
When asked what was the biggest misconception about her late husband, Wendy Dio indicated (as transcribed by The Metal Voice with slight edits): “I know Vivian Campbell said he was cheap. Ronnie was never cheap with anyone or anything, ever, ever, ever. So I don’t know how many people believe those things. I normally don’t do those things but I wanted to put in the book about how much was earned because of the fact that I am sick to death of hearing that Ronnie was cheap and paid him [Vivian] 100 dollars a week. How did he buy a Ferrari at 100 dollars a week? How does Vinny Appice and Jimmy Bain buy a house at 100 dollars a week.? And [today] that is something Ronnie can’t defend himself with.”
In an interview with Shut Up & Rock On back in early 2017, Campbell stated the following in part about what led him to leave Dio: “Well I was the thorn in Dio’s side. When the band was formed, that night in September ’82 in London, Ronnie kind of sat us down once we played, and this was the first time we all met and played together, Ronnie sat us down afterwards and he was super excited with what he was hearing. He said here’s the story…and he kind of explained to us that he had left Sabbath with Vinny and that he had a record deal and that we were gonna call the band ‘Dio’, for obvious name recognition. And that we would all be writing the record together, and he said there was going to be no money in this- you’re literally going to get a hundred dollars a week, which we did. But he said that if this project is successful by the third album, we’ll make it a completely equitable situation. That’s the thing I never let go of, and people make it kind of a nutshell thing about money. It was never about money, it was always about principle to me, you know? I am a man of my word. When somebody looks me in the eye and shakes my hand and we have an agreement, I’d honor my end of the agreement. In a nutshell, the Dio’s did not honor their end of the agreement.
To be honest, with the benefit of having many many decades of hindsight I can see exactly what happened. Ronnie never shared that information with Wendy, and Wendy never saw any value in the band. As far as she was concerned it was all about Ronnie, and that Ronnie could have any three musicians behind him playing guitar, bass and drums and it would be just as good. And the fact was that Ronnie knew that a band was a sum of the parts. The third album came and like I said Ronnie was in a very very dark place when he was going through the separation from Wendy and I talked to Ronnie at the start of the ‘Sacred Heart’ record and I said Ronnie, you know, I just wanna touch base with you about this. We’re on album three here…and up to this point bear in mind that the band has been very very successful. We’ve sold millions of records of which Vinny, Jimmy and myself got nothing from. We’ve sold hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of merchandise and t-shirts with our name, image and likeness on them which we got nothing. We’ve sold millions of dollars’ worth of tickets of which we got nothing. And we were being salaried less than the road crew. Which was all fine, we all agreed to work to this end because we all agreed that it was a labor of love, a passion project and we were invested in it because we knew that by the third album it would be an equitable situation. Because that is what Ronnie had promised us.”
When asked about Vivian Campbell‘s claim that he was paid less than the road crew at the time, Wendy Dio clarified: “I will explain that, so they were on retainer [the band] so that means they got paid whether they worked or not. We may do a six-week tour and the sound man probably got $2000 a week [only for six weeks] and he [Vivian Campbell] got $1700 [whether they worked or not].”
You can read other excerpts from the interview with Wendy Dio at The Metal Voice‘s website and/or listen to the interview below: