Vivian Campbell Recalls How ‘Not Friendly’ Gary Moore Treated Him When They Met: ‘It Didn’t Go Well’

Never meet your heroes – an old saying that seems to be truer than ever. You never know what’s going to happen if you ever meet your favorite guitar player. Well, things obviously didn’t go well for Def Leppard’s Vivian Campbell back in the day when he met his hero Gary Moore.

During a recent interview with The Vintage Rock magazine, Campbell recalled meeting Moore “under very strange circumstances one time.” And, he also adds that, unfortunately, “it didn’t go well.” Def Leppard guitarist explains that it had to do with Thin Lizzy leader Phil Lynott and his addictions. As he explains:

“I had been asked about four or five months before Phil Lynott passed away…Jimmy Bain — the bass player in Dio — was really close with Phil Lynott. They were good friends. But I’d known Phil also — from my years in Sweet Savage, we opened for Thin Lizzy a bunch. I didn’t know him terribly well — I wouldn’t consider him a peer — but he was very supportive of Sweet Savage, and got on stage with us a few times and jammed with us.”

Sweet Savage - Live at Maysfield Leisure Centre - Belfast, Northern Ireland 4-3-1981 (Full Show)

He added:

“I remember the original Live Aid was on — I remember watching it on TV at Phil’s house. So I went there, and like I said, this was several months before he passed away from basically a heroin overdose. So, Phil was just very, very distant. I couldn’t understand a word he was saying — he was mumbling, he was in cold sweats. His wife and kids had left him and he was living in this house. He had this minder guy — a driver guy — who was looking after him, and a couple of Swedish au pairs. I mean, it was really bizarre, kind of strange, surreal rock star stuff. And I was just like, ‘What the hell is going on?'”


“I was in Phil’s house, and then one morning I came down to the kitchen to make a cup of tea and I walked into the kitchen and Gary Moore was in the kitchen…in Phil’s house! It was totally unexpected. I don’t know if he had a key or if the door just wasn’t locked or whatever. So I walk into Phil Lynott’s kitchen and everyone else is still sleeping, and Gary Moore is standing there. And he had come round to check up on Phil. And he obviously felt that I was part of this whole… y’know, I was enabling him to be doing what he was doing. He thought that I was complicit in Phil’s drug addiction — which, obviously, I wasn’t. I mean, I’ve never done heroin in my life nor would I want to. I knew nothing about it. But Gary was not friendly. I was like, ‘Oh Gary, what kind of strings do you use? Blah blah blah.’ And he wasn’t having any of it. He was like, ‘Where’s Phil?’ “I think he’s still asleep. I haven’t seen him. ‘Well, tell him I was here. Tell him to call me.’ But it was definitely cold. He was not friendly towards me. But I don’t blame him — Phil was his friend and he thought that I was one of those people that was enabling Phil’s demise just because I happened to be there. So, that was unfortunate.”

Thin Lizzy bassist and vocalist Phil Lynott passed away on January 4, 1986. The official cause of death was heart failure and pneumonia. The last few remaining years of his life, Lynott’s health was seriously affected by his drug and alcohol addiction.

As it seems, Campbell was just at the wrong place at the wrong time. While he wasn’t one of the people who enabled Phil’s addiction, Moore thought otherwise, leading to this very cold and strict response.

Photo: Alec MacKellaig (Vivian Campbell & Brian Downey by Alec MacKellaig), Tibban99 (Gary-Moore-at-Pite-Havsbad)


  • David Slavkovic

    David always planned for music to be nothing more than a hobby. However, after a short career as an agricultural engineer he ended up news editor at KillerGuitarRigs, senior editor at, as well as a freelance contributor to online magazines such as GuitaristNextdoor.