Viv Campbell recalls nightmare post-chemo gig

Vivian Campbell has recalled a horrendous experience of playing a gig the day after undergoing chemotherapy.

Def Leppard guitarist Campbell was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 2013 and the following year the band were on tour with Kiss when he went through what he describes as his “worst ever show.”

He tells the Irish Times: “It was in the summer of 2014 at the Los Angeles Forum. We were on tour with Kiss and I was having chemotherapy at the time, scheduling my treatments around the shows and the travel.

“It was one of the three regimes of chemotherapy that I had gone through over the last several years, but this was a particularly brutal one.

“It was called Ice – named after the combination of drugs used: ifosfamide, carboplatin and etoposide.

“I don’t remember a thing about that show, but I do know we had to cut out a few of the songs as I sing a lot of the high parts and there was no way I was going to reach those notes that night. I’ve no idea how we got through it, but somehow we did.”

He continues: “I had been at hospital the whole night before this show getting an infusion of Ice. I didn’t realise it at the time, but it turns out I had a bad allergic reaction to one of the chemotherapy drugs.

“My eyes were completely swollen and I looked as if I had just done 10 rounds with Mike Tyson. That was the first time in my life that I wore sunglasses indoors for an arena show, but I looked truly horrendous and needed something to hide behind.”

Campbell’s cancer is being kept “at bay” by a drug called pembrolizumab and he says the whole experience has changed his outlook on life.

He adds: “Doing the tour while undergoing chemo helped me have a lot more faith in myself as a musician and, after all, that’s what’s important. It’s not about the hair, the clothes, or how we look. It’s about the art, the emotion, and the human connection it inspires.

“My hair has grown back a little bit since and so, after all these years, I finally get to have a grown-up haircut. Frankly, I wish I’d done it years ago.”

Def Lep hit the road for a lengthy tour with REO Speedwagon and Tesla from May.

Stef wrote close to 5,000 stories during his time as assistant online news editor and later as online news editor between 2014-2016. An accomplished reporter and journalist, Stef has written extensively for a number of UK newspapers and also played bass with UK rock favourites Logan. His favourite bands are Pixies and Clap Your Hands Say Yeah. Stef left the world of rock'n'roll news behind when he moved to his beloved Canada in 2016, but he started on his next 5000 stories in 2022.