Half a decade after his untimely passing, the legacy of Ronnie James Dio still reigns in the heart of every metalhead. His amazing body of work with Black Sabbath, Dio, Rainbow, and Heaven And Hell still remains as vital and current as ever. His figure has also become uber-iconic; the epitome of what Heavy Metal really is about. This has been partly possible thanks to the efforts of the singer’s window, Wendy Dio. Year after year, she always brings to the Metal masses new exciting reminders of Dio’s amazing career. Note to mention last year’s compilation/tribute album This Is Your Life featuring members of Motorhead, Metallica, Judas Priest, and many more.
For the upcoming weekend of May 15-17 (coinciding with the 5th anniversary of Dio’s passing), Wendy has prepared an unparalleled series of events christened as “A Celebration of the Life and Music of RONNIE JAMES DIO – The 5th Year Remembrance.” These will include an intimate memorial service, a celebrity bowling, an exhibit of Dio’s memorabilia, live music, a motorcycle ride, and much more. Exclusively for PureGrainAudio.com, she revealed all the details about the event and about the future of Dio’s legacy. Amazingly this even includes potential, brand new, unreleased recordings!
This year’s events in honor of Dio’s life and legacy are massive. Was all this your idea?
Wendy Dio: This year, because it is the fifth anniversary, I thought that maybe it would be nice to do it for the fans, since Ronnie loved his fans so much. So, that was what came to mind first. We decided to do the memorial on May 16 and at the Forest Lawn in Hollywood Hills. And then I said: “Well, you know, the fans are telling us they were coming from Australia, from Japan, from Russia from Minnesota, from all over, and so maybe we should do some event-so they have something to do the whole weekend if they want to.” And then we thought that way we could raise some money for the charity for the cancer fund also.
So which parts of the events are free, and which ones will be used for fundraising purposes?
Wendy Dio: Obviously the memorial is free, but people will pay an amount for the bike ride and the barbecue and the bowling event.
Can you tell me more details about every event in this celebration: the bowling, the bike ride, etc…?
Wendy Dio: First will be the bowling, which is a celebrity bowling tournament. Well, it’s just regular bowling but between 9 and 10 p.m. we’re going to have celebrity bowling. Jack Black from Tenacious D will be bowling, a lot of other people, and some people from Dio Disciples, Great white, Jimmy Bane, Vinnie Apice, and a bunch of people. Celebrity bowling as well should be a nice evening and we’ll do silent auction as well. That’s on Friday the 15th, and then we have the memorial on the 16th. It’s free for anybody who would like to come. We would like you to register so we would know how many people will come. You can go to the site and register which is www.diocancerfund.com.
Anyway, we also decided that before the memorial I will do a mini museum, so I want to put a lot of things out that fans have not seen before, the original artwork for Dio’s Holy Diver, Last in Line, Sacred Heart, different letters of him, music that he’s written, things like that, some of his stage clothes, awards, things like that, that they can look at and enjoy. And then the next day (17th) we’re going to do Ride for Ronnie, which hopefully will do well, that we would like to do every year if it goes well. It’s from Harley Davidson in Glenndale and finishing in Encino in the Park and you can either ride or you can just come to the Barbecue and in the Barbecue we have live music, Dio Disciples, Great White and others will be playing. A whole bunch of people will be playing there. It’s a big celebration of Ronnie’s life and music.
Was it hard to get all these musicians and celebrities involved?
Wendy Dio: No. You know, Ronnie was such a wonderful person not only as a talent, but also as a friend that everybody loved Ronnie. When I did the tribute record This is your Life everybody was there, Metallica, Scorpions, everybody wanted to be involved, Rob Halford, Motorhead, and everybody… because they were good friends of Ronnie.
Talking about that… How did the This Is Your Life CD come to happen?
Wendy Dio: I don’t know how it came about. I just thought it would be a good tribute record for Ronnie and to be able make money for the Cancer fund, and so I went to one of Ronnie’s closest friends, which is Glen Hughes, and asked him if he would do a track. And then he said yes of course, and then I asked Rob Halford, another close friend of Ronnie’s, and he said, yes, of course. And then I talked about it a few times in the press and then all of a sudden, Metallica called and said we want to be on it, Scorpions, Motorhead, Anthrax, all these other bands wanted to be involved, Cory Taylor, and I was like, “Wow! This is amazing!” Then Warner Brothers picked it out without even hearing one track!
There are rumors of unreleased Dio music that might eventually come out. Is that true?
Wendy Dio: Yes, I have to look for it because when Ronnie passed away, I closed the studio and I packed everything away and I haven’t been on any of the computers. I haven’t done anything because it was too hard for me to do that. Now I think it’s the time I can maybe start to do that, I think Greg Goldie has a couple of songs he was working on with Ronnie, Doug Aldrich has one, I think Jimmy Bane has one. You know, and I don’t know what’s in Ronnie’s computer, as long as the vocals are on it, we can put the band together because the band members are still here. So I need to look. But only to the standards that Ronnie would approve of.
Any final words about Dio’s upcoming Memorial celebration?
Wendy Dio: Anybody who could come, we would love you to come. The memorial is free, just go online and register. We are obviously going to welcome everybody and celebrate Ronnie’s life and his music. And if you want to come to the bowling or the Ride for Ronnie or the Barbecue just go online and look at the events!
There’s a perception that Dio, as an iconic Metal figure, is more relevant than ever. Do you agree?
Wendy Dio: I agree with that and I intend to keep it that way. That’s why we keep doing things to keep Ronnie’s music and his legacy alive and also to turn something bad into something good. So maybe by raising the money, one day we find the cure for somebody because this cancer thing strikes everyone.