Tour with Def Leppard, Poison, Lita Ford hits DetroitWritten by John Benson | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Among the many people who apparently weren’t suckered into seeing Tom Cruise sing in the ’80s nostalgic hair-metal homage flick “Rock of Ages” was Def Leppard guitarist Vivian Campbell.
“I’ve seen the play, and I absolutely loved it,” said Campbell, calling from Los Angeles. “We were invited to a couple of private screenings of the movie but I have kids and family commitments.”
Not only is the movie named after the popular Def Leppard song, but the band is hitting the road this summer on, the “Rock of Ages” tour alongside Poison and Lita Ford.
The tour will stop at Cleveland’s Quicken Loans Arena July 6 at 7 p.m. and in Clarkston, Mich., at DTE Energy Music Theatre July 7 at 7 p.m.
In the past, the Def Leppard members have gone out of their way to distance themselves from the ’80s hair metal zeitgeist, but apparently this time the free cross-promotion was too good to pass up. Campbell defends Def Leppard as being a band that was more about the music than its image, something the group’s ’80s peers can only blush about (Warrant and Dokken, we’re looking at you), but calling its current tour “Rock of Ages” is a bit on the nose, right?
“Obviously the movie raised the profile of the band’s music, which is great,” Campbell said. “And we’re shamelessly hitching our wagon to it calling it the ‘Rock of Ages’ tour. Why not, you know? I do think that there’s a reason to celebrate that kind of music. Maybe in the ’90s there wasn’t, but now it’s kind of OK to see if you like those guilty pleasures again.”
During the past 30 years, Def Leppard has sold more than 65 million albums worldwide based on the success of radio hits like “Rock of Ages,” “Foolin’,” “Hysteria,” “Photograph,” “Pour Some Sugar On Me” and “Bringin’ on the Heartache.”
For Campbell, his tenure in the band came exactly 20 years ago after founding member and guitarist Steve Clark died of an overdose. 1992 was an interesting time to join Def Leppard. A sea change in the music industry was already taking place with grunge music tarnishing hair metal’s sheen. At that point the band had just released “Adrenalize,” which, to its credit, did hit No. 1 on the charts in a post-”Nevermind” world.
In some ways Campbell is like a Forrest Gump for the hard-rock world. He’s witnessed more than his share of notable moments. Not only did he join Def Leppard at such a unique time but he was also a hired musician for Whitesnake during the summer of 1987 when the David Coverdale-led band enjoyed “Here I Go Again” momentum. He said the experience was surreal and brief, which makes him enjoy his Def Leppard gig that much more.
“Obviously there’s an originality to the band, myself excluded,” Campbell said. “It’s about the music, it’s about those songs and there’s a lot of quality in them. A lot of the other music that came from that genre, even with Whitesnake, was very image driven at the time and of the moment. Despite the bombast of some of the Def Leppard productions with huge, huge drums, it’s still the quality of the tunes. That’s why people are still coming to hear us after all of these years.”