On October 31, 2012, Hollywood celebrated Halloween DIO style at the 2nd Annual Ronnie James Dio Stand Up and Shout Cancer Awards Gala and Halloween Spooktacular event at the Avalon, in Hollyweird,CA! What better way to spend Samhain than with Dio’s Disciples and those who loved and respected the man, who gave us the most iconic universal hand jester in the world to represent rock n’ roll, Ronnie James Dio.
The Red Carpet rocked with celebrities such as recent cancer survivor Tony Iommi, (guitarist and co-founding member of Black Sabbath and Heaven & Hell), Terry “Geezer” Butler (Black Sabbath), Dio Disciples – Tim “Ripper” Owens (Judas Priest) Oni Logan (Lynch Mob), guitarist Craig Goldy (Dio), bassist Bjorn Anglund (Yngwie Malmsteen), keyboardist Scott Warren (Dio, Heaven & Hell), and drummer Simon Wright (Dio, AC/DC, UFO), guitarist Stevie D., and drummer Xavier Muriel (Buckcherry), Joey Belladonna (Anthrax), Alex Grossi (Quiet Riot), Frankie Banali (Quiet Riot), Sean McNabb (Dokken, Sons of Anarchy), James Lomanzo (bassist White Lyon, Megadeth) Eddie Money, Glenn Hughes (Black Sabbath, Deep Purple) and many others as they made their way past cameras into the building.
The severed arms and legs hung gracefully from the rafters as specters from the troupe, Cirq Beserck roamed the darkened halls; some dragging axes and haphazardly following people for the scare of it as zombie bartenders poured bottomless drinks of EVERY kind and the buffet table showcasing dinner ran the length of the wall in the main room. Guests in costume walked through hugging and saying hello as they recognized friends and posed for pictures.
Throughout the Avalon, rooms filled with signed guitars and rock n’ roll collages and autographed sports memorabilia for the silent auction, drew a buzz from excited guests; a signed Elvis collage started at $2500.00. Iommi donated a one-of-kind autographed, Gibson Iommi SG prototype guitar; a left-handed model made specifically for him. Iommi will also pose for a photograph with the winner of the auction. Slips of paper with lines of people’s names bidding on the items was a treat to see as it all goes 100% to the Ronnie James Dio Stand Up and Shout Cancer foundation.
The honorees for this year’s awards (named for Dio songs) went to Neil Warnock, Founder and CEO of The Agency Group worldwide; Alex Hodges, CEO, Nederlander Concerts; Dr. Raul Mena, Director of the Roy and Patricia Disney Cancer Center in Burbank; Stanley J. Diamond, partner, Diamond & Wilson, and member of the Board of Directors of the Ronnie James Dio Stand Up & Shout Cancer Fund;Charlie Hernandez, President of QED Productions and veteran production manager; Bob Chiappardi, Founder and CEO of Concrete Marketing; and Tony Iommi, recent cancer survivor, legendary guitarist and co-founding member of Black Sabbath and Heaven & Hell.
Ronnie James Dio was a small man in stature but he cast a very big shadow and the hush that fell over the rock community when the news of his passing broke, made time stand still for a brief few seconds. Ronnie James Dio is dead? NO…. Yes… Stomach Cancer.
Did you know? The American Cancer Society estimated that in 2012, about 577,190 Americans are expected to die of cancer, more than 1,500 people a day. Cancer is the second most common cause of death in the US, exceeded only by heart disease, accounting for nearly 1 of every 4 deaths.
Did you know? Cells become cancer cells because of DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) damage. DNA is in every cell and it directs all the cell’s actions. In a normal cell, when DNA gets damaged the cell either repairs the damage or the cell dies. In cancer cells, the damaged DNA is not repaired, and the cell doesn’t die like it should. Instead, the cell goes on making new cells that the body doesn’t need. These new cells all have the same abnormal DNA as the first cell does.
Discussing the past is still uncomfortable for guitarist Craig Goldy, but he would rather feel out of his comfort zone than not to tell people what happened. Waiting in the bands’ tour bus prior to Dio Disciples’ performance, Goldy’s welcoming smile and bear hugs were well worth the walk from the venue. The gentle hum of the softly lit tour bus was soothing and low making it the perfect place to have a conversation. “When it happened I was in Poland; (when he was first diagnosed) and I was doing a meet and greet,” explains Goldy gently. “Some guy walked up to me and says, ‘hey have you heard about Ronnie?’ And he showed me his cell phone. Ronnie had been diagnosed with stomach cancer. It was so very sudden. He had a lot of discomfort and thought he just had a real bad case of heart burn. So, when I got back, apparently, an amount of time had gone by where they gave him a clean bill of health through all the chemotherapy and what he was going through; I had been gone almost a month. It was hard getting out of there because of all the work visas and stuff so when I got back, he had been given a clean bill of health and the doctor said he could do anything.”
“So I said, ‘what do you want to do?’ and he said, ‘lets start writing for the next Dio record.’ And that was for the Magica album,” continues Goldy. “And he seemed fine. He was singing, talking, writing; and you could tell that he had been through ‘HELL’ but he felt okay. So, I had to go do another tour/concert that I just couldn’t get out of; and he was doing the Heaven and Hell thing, these gigs were already set in place. And then Tony Iommi had to have surgery done on his arm, I think it was tendinitis or something like that so we went and did our respective jobs and this time, I think I was in Australia. When I came back, he was in the hospital. So when I was gone all that time, there may have been discussion between Ronnie and Wendy (Dio) about something like this event; I don’t know but in my world, it was so sudden. Wendy and the doctor became so close that they decided they needed to do something to raise awareness. So again, in my world it seems like after the fact, not the beginning. But I don’t know how reliable that information is because I was kind of out of the loop at that point thinking everything was fine.”
But nothing was truly fine. Ronnie James Dio passed away May 16, 2010, at 7:45 AM, devastating everyone. And just like any family, pulling the pieces back together takes time and an outlet for healing is key to the mental health of all involved as the mourning process is very subjective. Goldy, Wendy Dio and Simon Wright had a discussion one day and came up with an idea to help everyone move forward as best they could—Dio Disciples. “When Ronnie passed, it was so devastating for us; he was family to us,” explains Goldy, “and there were a lot of bands doing tributes to Ronnie, and that I understand because he was loved all around the world, but there were other people doing it for the wrong reasons. So we were thinking that if anybody should be doing anything to keep his memory alive it should be us. When a very important family member passes away, the remaining family members will often do things, maybe once or twice a year, to keep their loved one’s memory alive; it’s just what families do and what we wanted to do.”
“So as far as Dio Disciples are concerned,” continues Goldy, “it’s kind of ‘as it goes’ because we’re not going to do anything outside of the fundamental reason we’re doing this, which is mainly and consistently about keeping his memory alive. Because he was so loved around the world that even if we did nothing, there is still a large amount of people that will never forget but at the same time we can’t do that ourselves because we loved him so much. After a long mourning period it was time to do something. There is some original material in the works and other things going on but we always want to make sure that what ever we do, never is it outside the confines of the true spirit of what this really is. So if it does progress or go other places, we will always keep it within those confines because we do not want to overstep boundaries in the eyes of the world.”
The out-pour of artists wanting to donate their time for the Ronnie James Dio Cancer foundation made Goldy happy as he talked with excitement about the all-star jam session happening toward the end of the evening. “Well actually there’s been so many people wanting to be a part of this that not a lot of us are going to be onstage at the same time,” enthused Goldy, “because we’ve been kind of replaced in a way which is good because so many people wanted to be a part of this; they contributed their time and effort so sure, come on up!”
For anyone who had ever met Ronnie James Dio, he was a class act and a charming gentleman with a big heart yet his music and stage persona was that of darkness and the horned one; the beast and it makes one wonder about the duality within. “We talked about that once and part of it was like Boris Karloff,” stated Goldy. “Karloff was a very kind and gentle soul and he loved children. Children would gather around him yet he was known for Frankenstein and it was just a character he played, because that was the type of thing that came natural to him. And I also love darker stuff…I love people and I’m a softie, I cry at sad commercials ya know I’m a fuckin’ sap and I love people, and to be nice and go out of my way and at the same time, there’s this side of me that says, ‘I love the dark shit’ and Ronnie was like that too and he goes one day, he says, ‘Look, I ain’t no greek God you gotta work with what you got.’ What he was trying to say is, he has that look! And so at the same time, he was given a gift that seemed to be a curse. He thought he wasn’t ya know the ‘David Coverdale’ or ‘Robert Plant’ looking kind of guy. He did have that side where he kind of envied those who had that quality but at the same time he used that quality of the look he had… He was the first and last of his kind…his soul was angelic but the character was like Boris Karloff.”
Once back inside the Avalon, the alternative troupe, Cirque Berzerk was on stage performing some of the most intimate and purely sexual displays of comedy noir and acrobatics to sensual trance music with a dark burlesque feel; sort of throw-back to the days of the Moulin Rouge. While most magicians pull a rabbit out of a hat, they pulled a hat out of a rabbit. Bravo!
Dio Disciples hit the stage and proceeded to blow the windows and doors out of Avalon with Kill The Dragon, Stand Up and Shout, Kill the King and Heaven and Hell. As Goldy did say, artists started replacing each other on stage as the jam progressed. Ronnie James Dio’s cousin, Rock Feinstein (GTR) performed Metal Will Never Die while guitarist Stevie D., and drummer Xavier Muriel (Buckcherry), sat in on Holy Diver with Joey Vera (bass, Armored Saint) and Evan Seinfeld (Biohazard) on vocals. Mob Rules saw Stephen Percy on vocals (RATT), Greg D’Angelo behind the kit (White Lion), Sean McNabb on bass (Dokken, Sons Of Anarchy) and Alex Grossi (Quiet Riot) on guitar. Man on the SilverMountain closed the evening with Joey Belladonna on vocals (Anthrax), drummer Frankie Banali (Quiet Riot) and James Lomanzo on bass (White Lion, Megadeth).
The Ronnie James Dio Stand Up and Shout Cancer organization put on a stellar show for charity but there were many who could not make the Gala due to the events taking place back east with Hurricane Sandy; Eddie Trunk and a host of others yet the night went off without a hitch.
As one of the guests accepted an award on behalf of a member not able to be in Los Angeles due to the weather on the eastern seaboard, he said how important it is to be screened for early detection. He said that if you bought him a glass of wine, he’d let you put your finger up his ass. Why? Because prostate exams are important that’s why! Be a public service announcement instead of a public statistic announcement. Hey stranger things have happened but nobody has to die from this disease so men, turn your head and cough and ladies check your bumps for lumps or better yet, check each other, many men have saved the lives of their women through early detection even if, by accident. What a way to spend the night with your honey and say, I love you.