RONNIE JAMES DIO was not only one of the consummate and pioneering vocalists of all time, he was also to many a true rock and roll icon. The Cortland, New York-born Dio epitomized hard rock music and took it to soaring heights from his days with ELF, RAINBOW, BLACK SABBATH, HEAVEN & HELL and indeed DIO, until his untimely passing on May 16th, 2010. Now, with The Very Beast Of Dio Volume 2 about to be unleashed on Niji Entertainment on October 9th, Dio fans will once again have the opportunity to experience all the majesty and magic of one of the world’s finest musicians.
BraveWords.com correspondent Matthew O’Shaughnessy (from WVOX.com) spoke with longtime Dio drummer Simon Wright (ex-AC/DC) about the upcoming new Dio disc, DIO DISCIPLES and more on the life of the hard rock legend.
BraveWords.com: The Very Beast Of Dio Volume 2 is certainly a stellar tribute and gives Ronnie James Dio’s fans another inside look into his music. As some who knew Ronnie well and played drums for 13 years in his band, what are your thoughts on the album?
Simon Wright: “I think it’s a good representation of the albums that were done from 1996 onwards. You’ve got Magica songs on there, songs from Killing The Dragon, Master Of The Moon. As well as extra tracks such as Electra which was leading up to Ronnie’s next album, Magica two and three; unfortunately that did not happen. Another bonus track is ‘Metal Will Never Die’ which was done by Ronnie on his cousins album – DAVID “ROCK” FEINSTEIN’s Bitten By The Beast. And you have a Japanese extra track which was off of Master Of The Moon called ‘Prisoner Of Paradise’. So, I think in all it’s a pretty good compilation and some really strong songs on there.”
BraveWords.com: After leaving AC/DC in 1989, you met Ronnie James Dio and were hired to play drums entering into the 1990’s. Your first collaboration with Ronnie was 1990’s Lock Up The Wolves album, an album that met with critical acclaim for Dio.
Simon Wright: “Yes, that’s correct. We toured that album and it was great hooking up with him. I wasn’t sure what I would do after AC/DC. But I was lucky enough to hook up with Ronnie and it was a great ride albeit a little bit short-lived at first. But I rejoined in 1998 again. It was just incredible working with him; he was just a genius and a gentleman.”
BraveWords.com: Tell us more of your thoughts on the forthcoming The Very Beast Of Dio Volume 2.
Simon Wright: “Ronnie was always evolving. Master Of The Moon was a little of a darker album and there are some great cuts from that album; Killing The Dragon was a little more I think rock and roll and Magica was a mini concept album. So there’s a lot of great songs on The Very Beast Of Dio Volume 2. It stands good in a Dio fans collection I think. Some really excellent stuff on here. It’s a good compilation and a good retrospective. There’s some real classic stuff on there.”
BraveWords.com: This is a great, great package for all Dio fans.
Simon Wright: “Yes, I have to say it is a good representation. This is a real compilation and its got some great pictures which I haven’t seen for some time. (laughter). It’s a good representation of the music that came in from the years 1996 and that period.”
BraveWords.com: As some one who knew Ronnie James Dio well, played in his band; what would you like to say about his rich legacy?
Simon Wright: “Wow. What hasn’t been said already! Those songs – and there are so many of them; it’s just remarkable how he would capture the spirit of people in songs and what people would be thinking and they would relate to those songs. He was just a master at that. And it goes without saying about his voice; it was just a monster voice. I really miss him like everyone. I think The Very Beast Of Dio Volume 2 is a great representation of some of his classic songs. He’s was just a maestro. And such a good friend.”
BraveWords.com: There must be, as we can imagine, many great memories and times spent with Ronnie James Dio.
Simon Wright: “There are so many. I was in his band for thirteen years. We would do a lot of stuff outside of music too. It was just great. He was such a great person as we have all found out. But I got to see it first hand. I can’t say enough good things about Ronnie and I really miss him.”
BraveWords.com: What’s the latest with Dio Disciples?
Simon Wright: “Well, we have a US tour that’s coming up which starts October 20th at The House Of Blues in Anaheim, California and we do end up on November 21st in Watertown, NY. So we are going East and West of the states. We’ll be playing Ronnie’s songs and we’ll be flying the flag with all due respect. Hopefully all the great Dio fans can come out and see us and share Ronnie’s great songs with us and remember him.”
BraveWords.com: What else would you like to say about the upcoming The Very Beast Of Dio Volume 2 and Dio Disciples?
Simon Wright: “It’s a great selection of songs. Take a look at it. As far as Dio Disciples go; we’re heading out on the road in the next couple of months so come out and see us. We’re playing Ronnie’s songs and we’re doing this whole thing with total respect for Ronnie. We hope to see you all on the road.”
(Dio Holy Diver photo by Håkon Grav)