An exclusive VIP listening party for the Ronnie James Dio tribute album "This Is Your Life" and awards gala was held last night (Monday, March 17) at the Avalon in Hollywood, California. Fans got to hear the entire album two weeks before they could buy it and there were very special live performances by HALESTORM, Corey Taylor (SLIPKNOT, STONE SOUR), Duff McKagan (GUNS N' ROSES, VELVET REVOLVER, DUFF MCKAGAN'S LOADED, WALKING PAPERS), Scott Ian (ANTHRAX), Tim "Ripper" Owens (JUDAS PRIEST, YNGWIE MALMSTEEN, ICED EARTH, DIO DISCIPLES), Oni Logan (LYNCH MOB, DIO DISCIPLES), Jimmy Bain (DIO, LAST IN LINE, RAINBOW), Rowan Robertson (DIO), Brian Tichy (OZZY OSBOURNE, WHITESNAKE) and many other special surprise guests all performing their renditions of Ronnie's songs. There were also awards presented during the evening, including an award to "The Metal God" Rob Halford of JUDAS PRIEST.
Fan-filmed video footage of last night's event can be seen below.
Ronnie James Dio is one of the most beloved figures in rock history. His gifts, both as a singer and songwriter, are instantly recognizable, whether he was with RAINBOW, BLACK SABBATH, HEAVEN & HELL, or leading DIO. Sadly, Dio lost his battle with stomach cancer in 2010 but his towering voice and legacy live on.
To celebrate one of rock's most powerful voices, an all-star group of his friends and fans recorded 13 of their favorite tracks for a tribute album, 100% of proceeds from which will go to the Ronnie James Dio Stand Up And Shout Cancer Fund. Produced by his longtime manager and wife Wendy Dio, the album includes contributions by such metal heavyweights as METALLICA, MOTÖRHEAD, SCORPIONS, ANTHRAX, and Rob Halford, as well as appearances by many of the musicians who performed with Dio over the years.
"This Is Your Life" will be available from Rhino on April 1. A digital version will also be available.
Although the songs featured on the album touch on the different eras of Dio's career, several spotlight his time with RAINBOW, including METALLICA's epic, nine-minute "Ronnie Rising Medley", which combines the RAINBOW songs "A Light In The Black", "Tarot Woman", "Stargazer" and "Kill The King". SCORPIONS add a scorching take on "Temple Of The King" while MOTÖRHEAD is joined by Biff Byford from SAXON on "Starstruck". Rob Halford teams with frequent Dio collaborators Vinny Appice, Doug Aldrich, Jeff Pilson, and Scott Warren for "Man On The Silver Mountain". The final lineup of Dio's solo band — Simon Wright, Craig Goldy, Rudy Sarzo and Scott Warren — are joined by Glenn Hughes (DEEP PURPLE, BLACK SABBATH) for "Catch The Rainbow", a track from RAINBOW's 1975 debut.
ANTHRAX and ADRENALINE MOB honor Dio's memorable stint with BLACK SABBATH with their takes on "Neon Knights" and "The Mob Rules", respectively, as does a group, led by Oni Logan on vocals along with Jimmy Bain, Rowan Robertson, and Brian Tichy, which performs "I" from "Dehumanizer".
"This Is Your Life" also includes songs from Dio's back-to-back platinum albums "Holy Diver" (1983) and "The Last In Line" (1984), with DORO's take on "Egypt (The Chains Are On)", HALESTORM tackling "Straight Through The Heart", Corey Taylor (STONE SOUR, SLIPKNOT) covering the classic "Rainbow In The Dark" and TENACIOUS D (Jack Black and Kyle Gass) putting their signature spin on "The Last In Line". KILLSWITCH ENGAGE's cover of "Holy Diver", a hit in its own right when released in 2006, is also included here.
Fittingly, Ronnie James Dio provides the finale (and the album's title) with his moving performance of "This Is Your Life". Originally released on "Angry Machines" (1996), the song's lyrics explore mortality and are backed by a stark and beautiful arrangement that features Dio accompanied only by his longtime keyboardist Scott Warren on piano. The song serves as a poignant reminder that we will never hear a voice like Dio's again.
"I'm letting them pick what songs they wanna do in the way they wanna do it," Wendy told Artisan News in 2011.
"We reached out to Wendy Dio about wanting to be a part of the Dio tribute that's getting put together," METALLICA singer James Hetfield told U.K.'s Metal Hammer magazine. "We're very honored to be a part of that, and to be a part of a celebration of Ronnie's life and his great contribution, man."
In an interview with Guitar International, former ANTHRAX guitarist Rob Caggiano stated that the band's cover version of "Neon Knights" "came out pretty smoking."
The Ronnie James Dio Stand Up and Shout Cancer Fund, co-founded by Wendy Dio, is a non-profit 501(c)(3) charitable fund dedicated to supporting cancer-prevention research, raising awareness and educating the public about the vital importance of early detection and prevention when dealing with this deadly disease.
"This Is Your Life" track listing:
01. "Neon Knights" - ANTHRAX *
02. "The Last In Line" - TENACIOUS D *
03. "The Mob Rules" - ADRENALINE MOB
04. "Rainbow In The Dark" - Corey Taylor, Roy Mayorga, Satchel, Christian Martucci, Jason Christopher *
05. "Straight Through The Heart" - HALESTORM *
06. "Starstruck" - MOTÖRHEAD with Biff Byford *
07. "Temple Of The King" - SCORPIONS *
08. "Egypt (The Chains Are On)" - DORO
09. "Holy Diver" - KILLSWITCH ENGAGE
10. "Catch The Rainbow" - Glenn Hughes, Simon Wright, Craig Goldy, Rudy Sarzo, Scott Warren *
11. "I" - Oni Logan, Jimmy Bain, Rowan Robertson, Brian Tichy *
12. "Man On The Silver Mountain" - Rob Halford, Vinny Appice, Doug Aldrich, Jeff Pilson, Scott Warren *
13. "Ronnie Rising Medley" (featuring "A Light In The Black", "Tarot Woman", "Stargazer", "Kill The King") - METALLICA *
14. "This Is Your Life" - DIO
* Previously unreleased
The Ronnie James Dio Stand Up and Shout Cancer Fund is a privately funded 501(c)(3) charity organization which has already raised more than $600,000 in its short history. Monies raised to date have been committed to the cancer research work of the T.J. Martell Foundation for Cancer, AIDS and Leukemia Research and the gastric cancer research unit of the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, where Ronnie was treated for gastric cancer during the last six months of his life.
Greg Prato of Songfacts recently conducted an interview with Zakk Wylde (BLACK LABEL SOCIETY, OZZY OSBOURNE). A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.
Songfacts: I think a band that never gets the credit is the original KISS lineup, which wrote some really great songs as well.
Zakk: I was never a KISS guy growing up as a kid, but my friends were just complete KISS freakos. They had the dolls, the whole nine yards. Nick [Catanese] is a complete KISS freak and so is J.D. The thing that got him into playing bass guitar was Gene Simmons. He got into Jaco Pastorius and all the cats, every insane bass player; Victor Wooten and all the guys, but that was later on. But his introduction, the reason why he wanted to play bass was because of Gene Simmons, because he loved KISS. But I was always more of a SABBATH guy and ZEPPELIN and stuff like that, and I dug Elton John. If you listen to those KISS records the production on those records is phenomenal. And they're great songs. They really are. It's great classic '70s riffs and just well structured songs. Very hooky songs.
Songfacts: How would you say that you write your best songs?
Zakk: I don't think it's so much writing. I remember reading this thing on Robert Plant, and he goes, "I don't think it's so much you write them — you receive them." It's like God is the radio station that it's all coming from, and it's just a matter of tuning in until you hit His frequency. A lot of times I'll just sit in the morning, having a cup of java just chillin' out. If I sit at the piano or I sit at the acoustic guitar and I start writing something mellow, it's going to be what it's going to be. But if I sit behind an amp, between a Marshall, that always dictates what frame of mind I'm going to be in. If I sit down with an electric guitar what's going to come out are SABBATH/ZEPPELIN type riffs, but if I'm sitting behind a piano late at night, I might write something like "Desperado". You're not going to write "Desperado" between a wall of Marshalls and thumping, crushing volume.
Songfacts: With those first two Ozzy solo albums ["Blizzard Of Ozz" and "Diary Of A Madman"], how much do you think that Bob Daisley and Lee Kerslake played a part in the songwriting? They seemed to be a pretty big part of the songwriting with those albums.
Zakk: Yeah. Bob's always been great with Oz. Just a great pairing like the Elton/Bernie Taupin thing. Bob's a great lyricist. He worked with us on "No Rest For The Wicked", he worked on "No More Tears". So yeah, I think Bob's great.
Songfacts: I've always wondered what that original "Blizzard Of Ozz" lineup would have gone on to do if they had stayed together.
Zakk: I think that original lineup was phenomenal. You can't even argue that. Just listen to the records. They're timeless, classic albums. Hands down, that line-up was fuckin' sick. When they were making the record, they didn't know. Randy [Rhoads] didn't know any of the guys. Randy never met Bob Daisley or Lee Kerslake before. I'd mean, if me and you took four complete strangers, stuck 'em in a room, and then they ended up coming out with two amazing records — what are the chances of that happening?
Songfacts: And I've always wondered what the second lineup with Ozzy, Randy and also Rudy Sarzo and Tommy Aldridge would have come up with in the recording studio.
Zakk: I think it would have been a completely different thing. How could it not have been? Look at it like the Patriots — Ozzy and Randy, would be [Bill] Belichick and [Tom] Brady, but now we're going to have different wide receivers, different running backs, different defenses. Obviously, we don't have to worry about Captain America and Father Belichick, since we know what they're going to deliver. But the rest of the team around it, without [Wes] Welker there, let's see what happens now. Without a doubt, even when I play with BLACK LABEL, when we have different guys I play with, everyone always brings their own magic, their own flavor to the soup, hands down. You listen to BLACK SABBATH with Ronnie James Dio in it, and it's not BLACK SABBATH. They should have just called it HEAVEN & HELL right from the beginning. Because you listen to that "Heaven and Hell" album, that doesn't sound anything close to BLACK SABBATH. I mean, that sounds about as much like BLACK SABBATH as "Blizzard Of Ozz" sounds like BLACK SABBATH. If you were to play BLACK SABBATH for me — and I'm a huge SABBATH freako — and then with Father Dio over there, I'd be going, "Oh, cool, what band is this? This is good stuff." I mean, the songs don't even sound BLACK SABBATH-y. I mean, "Neon Knights", could you picture Ozzy singing over that song?
Songfacts: No, I can't.
Zakk: I can't either. It's weird. It's a whole different band. But like you said, there are different dynamics by bringing different people in, especially if it's a songwriting team. With NINE INCH NAILS, it's all Trent Reznor. So when we get a new record from NINE INCH NAILS, it depends on what side of the bed Trent's waking up on and what he's been eating lately and what he's been into. Because he's preparing the whole meal. It's not like a songwriting team where everybody's throwing stuff at it: you came up with the pre-chorus, I had the main riff, Mike came up with that middle bit right before the guitar solo, and then the ending bit Joey came up with. That's like a band dynamic right there. But if it's a NINE INCH NAILS thing, that's all Trent's everything. He's the Salvador Dali of the whole thing. And then talking about songwriters, when you take Paul McCartney and you have him in WINGS, that's a completely different thing. His songwriting throughout was insanely good, as well. "Maybe I'm Amazed" and everything like that can hang with all the BEATLES stuff he wrote.
Read the entire interview from Songfacts.