by Ali Blackdiamond
Back in 2010 when Ronnie James Dio passed away, that summer his band Heaven And Hell should have been closing the UK metal festival Bloodstock Open Air. So in tribute to Ronnie, the organisers decided to name the main stage at Bloodstock the ‘Ronnie James Dio Stage.’ The following statement is what the Bloodstock organisers released at that sad time in 2010 –
At 7:45 am on May 16, 2010, rock legend Ronnie James Dio passed away. Ronnie had been diagnosed with stomach cancer in late 2009 and when he finally lost his fight for life we in turn lost a genius, a gentleman and perhaps the greatest voice the metal world has ever known.
Ronnie and his former Black Sabbath band mates – Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler and Vinny Appice – had been scheduled to round off Bloodstock 2010 in their current incarnation as Heaven And Hell. The festival organizers and the many thousands of fans bound for Bloodstock 2010 were equally ecstatic about the band’s forthcoming headline slot. Heaven And Hell had recently released the critically acclaimed album The Devil You Know and their stage shows, featuring some of metal’s truly immortal anthems, were receiving rave reviews right across the rock press. Heaven And Hell headlining Bloodstock Open Air 2010 would have made history for all sorts of reasons. Sadly, it was not to be.
Although immensely saddened by the news of Ronnie’s death, the Bloodstock team knew, as Ronnie himself knew better than anyone, that the show must go on. And so it was decided to honour his memory and a truly amazing life lived to the full by renaming Bloodstock’s main stage as the Ronnie James Dio Stage. Not for one year, not even for two, but forever. A dedication took place on the stage itself during the festival.
Nothing can ever bring Dio back from the great gig in the sky, but his towering voice, his incredible vision and his timeless music will live forever. Bloodstock is both proud and humbled to join the worldwide brotherhood of metal in remembering and celebrating Ronnie’s spectacular career. His spirit will live on even as the music he did so much to create forges ahead into the future.
The following video was filmed at Bloodstock 2010, dedicated to Ronnie –
A special tribute band was put together in 2011 by Bloodstock Director and Beholder vocalist Simon Hall, called The Last In Line. The band also comprised of Rod Boston on bass (MirrorBlack, Keltic Jihad, Invidia), Simon Cliffe on guitar (ex Beholder), Paul Benford on guitar (Adust), and Paul Carnevale on drums (Black Circus, ex Beholder).
The band played a special acoustic set on the Jagermeister stage, the tent was full to bursting with people spilling out onto the grass and the sun shone down for Ronnie as the band played their fantastic set (I was there and won’t forget it).
Rod Boston, bass player, had these words to say –
“Ronnie James Dio. My goodness, the man and his music have become part of the very fabric of my musical existence for as long as I can remember. From hearing the seminal ‘Rising’ album as a wee lad, and hearing THAT voice for the first time. A voice that helped shape metal as we know it today……and his influence is felt pretty much right across all of metal’s sub genres. A fantastic performer, indeed among the best i have ever seen……and a man with time and respect for his supporters and friends. I met him on more than one occasion and he was gracious and kind……he will be sorely missed.
So – when I was approached by Beholder’s Simon Hall about performing an impromptu acoustic tribute to Ronnie at Bloodstock last summer (2011) I jumped at the chance. An opportunity to give something back, however small, and pay our respects. Now although we only had 2 3hour rehearsals at the Queens hall in Nuneaton – we were all such big fans of the man’s work – it came together really quickly. ( The band also comprised of Simon Cliffe, Paul Benford,(guitars) and Paul Carnivale (drums)).
The show itself is one that I will always recall with great fondness. The growing crowd was singing every word, with the sun setting behind them. It sounds mawkish, but that’s how it really was. We were all quite overcome as we walked offstage…..and very glad that we went some way to doing Ronnie and his work some justice, and had given him a worthy tribute.
‘Run along the rainbow – before it turns to black’.
Long live Ronnie James.”
The following videos show the talent of the musicians in The Last In Line Band, what a fitting tribute to Ronnie –