Long Live Rock ‘n’ Roll! Cancer Benefit for Ronnie James Dio

 Long Live Rock ‘n’ Roll!
Cancer Benefit for Ronnie James Dio
Written by Alison “MetalBabe” Cohen

Legendary frontman and vocalist extraordinaire Ronnie James Dio lost his battle with gastric cancer on May 16th, 2010. After his death Wendy Dio, Ronnie’s Widow, founded the Ronnie James Dio Stand Up And Shout Cancer Fund with 13 of her friends in an effort to find a cure for cancer. She made a promise to Ronnie that they would raise $10,000,000 in his name.

The 2nd annual Benefit Show for the Ronnie James Dio Stand Up and Shout Cancer Fund took place on Halloween Night at the Avalon Theatre in Hollywood, CA. Celebrities arrived for this Red Carpet Event as Circus Berzerk took the stage. An award ceremony was scheduled, as well as a silent auction, costume contest, performance by the Dio Disciples, and an All-Star Celebrity Jam. Dozens of items were set up throughout the Avalon for the silent auction, including autographed items from bands like Kiss, Aerosmith, Pink Floyd, and more.

When I arrived, I could hardly believe the first three people I recognized were Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler, and Glen Hughes! After taking a quick picture with them, I watched a few minutes of Circus Berzerk, and then noticed Joey Belladona from Anthrax. He was really looking forward to singing the hard rock version of “Man on a Silver Mountain” during the Celebrity Jam. (He did an acoustic performance of this song at the Dio Memorial Show 5/31/10.) He said it felt like “Ronnie just handed that song to him.”

I talked to Joey Vera from Armored Saint for a bit, who was really stoked about playing “Holy Diver” onstage later that night. I asked him what the first thing that comes to mind when he thinks about Ronnie is, and he said “how down to earth he is.” He knows that everyone always says that, but “he really was such a genuine, normal, regular guy. Even though his voice is not from this planet, it’s from somewhere else… He really was a genuine guy. He was always courteous and kind.”

Joey first met Ronnie out on tour in 2001. They ran into each other again five or six years later and Ronnie remembered him. Joey was just floored that a legend like Ronnie James Dio remembered his name. Joey went on to say that that really shows his character. He’s the real deal, and sorely missed.

I was really happy to meet Dio’s Cousin and bandmate David “Rock” Feinstein from The Rods. David and Dio were together in two of Dio’s earlier bands, Ronnie Dio and the Prophets, and Elf. David was going to play guitar on “Metal Will Never Die” during the Celebrity Jam, which was really important to him, because it was one of the last songs that RJD ever recorded, and they recorded it together. The song actually came out on David’s solo album “Bitten by the Beast,” in 2010, which was the year that Ronnie passed away. They had recorded it about 2 ½ years prior to that in his home studio, and it was just sitting around because they planned to use it when they did some kind of reunion.

I ran into Geezer Butler again, and this time I had the chance to have a conversation with him. He told me a couple stories about Ronnie James Dio, who really was one of the best friends he ever had. He told me that Tony Iommi had introduced him to Ronnie in 1979. “You could go two or three years without talking to him, and then pick up the phone if you’re in trouble, and he’d be there for you,” Geezer said. “I was just blessed to have him as a friend. He was the only one I knew that would go out and have a drink with his fans.” Geezer told me a story about a time when they played in Scandinavia, and his plane arrived late, around 5:00pm, and when he got there Ronnie was outside drinking with all the fans. Ronnie was “just one of the guys.”

Prior to the Dio Disciples’ performance, 7 Stand Up and Shout Gala Awards were proudly given to honor the following people, who were all very important parts of Ronnie James Dio’s life and who have worked hard to spread the word about the Dio Cancer Fund:
The Silent Auction took place after the awards were given, and then Circus Berzerk took the stage for another set of acrobats, aerial arts, stilts, fire, and more.

  • Neil Warnock (CEO/Founder, The Agency Group) – Man on the Silver Mountain Award
  • Bob Chiappardi (President, Concrete Marketing) – Stand Up and Shout Award
  • Charlie Hernandez (President, QED Productions) – Killing the Dragon Award
  • Raul Mena, M.D. (Medical Director, Roy & Patricia Disney Family Cancer Center) – Sacred Heart Award
  • Alex Hodges (CEO, Nederlander Concerts) – Master of the Moon Award
  • Tony Iommi (Legendary Black Sabbath Guitarist) – King of Rock N’ Roll Award
  • Stanley J. Diamond (ESQ. Diamond & Wilson) – Rainbow in the Dark Award

The time had finally come for the Dio Disciples, which consists of Tim “Ripper” Owens, Oni Logan, Bjorn  Englen, and Dio members Craig Goldy, Scott Warren, and Simon Wright, to take the stage. It was exciting to see them go through a set of Dio, Black Sabbath, and Rainbow songs that I know Ronnie James Dio would have been proud of. Throughout the set, Tim “Ripper” Owens (Solo Artist/Judas Priest/Iced Earth) and Oni Logan (Lynch Mob) went back and forth on the vocals, sometimes both singing at once. Their set included “Kill the Dragon,” “Last in Line,” “Stand Up and Shout,” “Egypt/Stargazer,” “Kill the King,” and “Heaven and Hell.”

The All-Star Celebrity Jam picked right up after the Dio Disciples’ performance, starting out with “Metal Will Never Die.” I was right in front of David “Rock” Feinstein to show my support, which was really cool since I had talked to him earlier that night about the meaning of that song. It was also really cool to see Joey Vera play guitar on the next song “Holy Diver,” and Joey Belladonna sing his hard rock version of “Man on the Silver Mountain,” since I’d talked to them both before they played too. In addition to the Dio Disciples, the stage had become a rotating circle of rock stars!

Songs/Musicians included:

  1. Metal Will Never Die (David “Rock” Feinstein)
  2. Holy Diver (Evan Seinfeld, Joey Vera, Xavier Muriel, Steve D)
  3. Rainbow in the Dark (Brian Tichy, Doug Aldrich, Michael Devin)
  4. Long Live Rock ‘n’ Roll (Michael Devin, Oni Logan, Doug Aldrich, Brian Tichy,)
  5. Mob Rules (Stephen Pearcy, Greg D’Angelo, Sean McNabb. Alex Grossi)
  6. Man on the Silver Mountain (Joey Belladonna, Rowen Robertson ,James Lomenzo, Frankie Banali)

Even though the last song ended, the night continued on. I talked to contributing musicians Doug Aldrich, Bjorn  Englen, Brian Tichy, Tim “Ripper” Owens, and Michael Devin backstage for a little bit, and then went to the upstairs lounge to close out the night. At that point I had a chance to speak with Wendy Dio and thank her for all that she has done, and is doing for the Stand Up and Shout Cancer Fund.

There are hardly words to describe the love that filled the air that night for Ronnie James Dio. I am truly honored that I was able to participate in this magical event. Prior to the Benefit Show the Stand Up and Shout Cancer Fund had already raised over $600,000, which was donated to T.J. Martell and M.D. Anderson for cancer research.

Hopefully this event was a success, and the Stand Up and Shout Cancer Fund is one step closer to reaching their goal, and we are one step closer to finding a cure for cancer.

For more information, or to make a donation, please visit: www.diocancerfund.org

See this interview in Rock N Roll Industries here.