Happy Anniversary: Dio, Sacred Heart
31 years ago today, Dio released their third studio album, an effort which ultimately proved to be the final LP for the band with Vivian Campbell as their lead guitarist.
Produced by Ronnie James Dio himself, Sacred Heart found Dio working with Campbell, bassist Jimmy Bain, keyboardist Claude Schnell, and drummer Vinny Appice, with additional guitar work from Craig Goldy on the song “Time to Burn.” From a musicianship standpoint, however, what’s most remembered about the album is that Campbell was – shall we say – released from his position with the band during the subsequent tour.
Late in his life, Dio reflected on his decision to bid Campbell farewell, and although he admitted that he regretted some of the remarks that he made about Campbell in the wake of the guitarist’s departure, he stood by his reasons for letting him go. “In my opinion, Vivian no longer had the commitment to the band he had in the early days," said Dio. "He was — and remains — an excellent guitarist. I never lost sight of how good he was as a musician, but as a person… Well, he was no longer on the same page as the rest of us. That annoyed me hugely.”
At the very least, it can be said that Sacred Heart was a success: it became Dio’s highest-charting album to date in the UK, hitting #12 on the UK Albums chart, and it hit #29 on the Billboard Top 200 Albums chart, going gold in the States. The album also spawned two significant hits on the Mainstream Rock chart: “Rock ‘N’ Roll Children” and “Hungry for Heaven,” both of which made it into the top 30. It’s also worth noting that, although Campbell’s departure definitely resulted in a change in the Dio sound, it wasn’t as though it led to an instant commercial decline: the band’s next studio album, Dream Evil, also hit #12 on the UK Albums chart.