HEAVEN AND HELL Drummer: RONNIE JAMES DIO Is 'Singing Better Than He Has Ever Sung'

Jeb Wright of Classic Rock Revisited recently conducted an interview with legendary heavy metal drummerVinny Appice (HEAVEN AND HELL, BLACK SABBATH, DIO). A few excerpts from the chat follow:

Classic Rock Revisited: Have you [HEAVEN AND HELL] started actual rehearsals yet?

Vinny: We just started [February 19]. On the first day we were amazed at how tight it sounded. It was like we had never stopped playing. We were all just blown away.

Classic Rock Revisited: What was the first song you guys rehearsed?

Vinny: "After All" from "Dehumanizer". We started with that song — or was it? Actually, it was "Computer God" and then it was that one. We are only playing the [Ronnie James] Dio era. Tony [Iommi] and Geezer [Butler] have just done all the stuff with Ozzy. If the band had not been together for a long time and we went out and didn't play any classic Ozzy-era SABBATH stuff then that would be different but since they have been playing with Ozzy in BLACK SABBATH that makes it different.

Classic Rock Revisited: How is it to hear that Ronnie, at his age, is still as strong a singer as he was thirty years ago?

Vinny: It is great to be back. I have seen Ronnie here and there but we had not had a chance to talk. We have been able to catch up on things this time. When I first heard his voice again it felt really cool. Within five minutes it felt natural. Ronnie is just singing his ass off. He is actually singing better than he has ever sung.

Classic Rock Revisited: Tony and Ronnie will have to coexist again. Both are natural born leaders. Do you think they can do it this time?

Vinny: They have worked together before and they have realized how to work together without having any discrepancies. Ronnie was writing with Tony before this project got to this stage. I think that after all these years it will go pretty smooth.

Classic Rock Revisited: Will you be playing all three new songs on the tour?

Vinny: We are putting all three in there. The set list is really, really strong on this tour.

Classic Rock Revisited: Is this the second time you have replaced Bill Ward?

Vinny: It is more like the third time. I replaced him on the HEAVEN AND HELL tour. Bill left and they had heard of me and they called me and asked me to come down. I went on tour with them and then we finished the tour and we did the "Mob Rules" and the "Live Evil" albums. SABBATH got back together and were going to do "Dehumanizer" and Cozy Powell was going to be the drummer but he fell off a horse and broke his pelvis. Tony said, "Let's call Vinny." They were having issues at that time so I didn't think that one was going to last for long. The next time I replaced Bill was when they were doing the reunion tour with Ozzy. Bill had a minor heart attack during rehearsals and couldn't do it. So HEAVEN AND HELL makes the third time I replaced Bill plus one time, I replaced Cozy.

Classic Rock Revisited: [DIO's] "Holy Diver" is perhaps the best metal album of the '80s. Did you know it was that good at the time?

Vinny: When we were making "Holy Diver" we just went about our business of putting some ideas down. We had a lot of fun making that album. We were all crazy. We didn't think we were making a classic album. We were just making what we felt. Everything came from the heart. We had no preconceived notions of anything. I remember one of my roadies coming up to me and saying, "This is going to go platinum." I told him that we would keep our fingers crossed. Who would have known that twenty-five years later the thing is still selling. You just don't know that at the time.

Classic Rock Revisited: What is your take on why Vivian Campbell got fired by Ronnie?

Vinny: After a while Viv wanted to go out and play his own music — a different kind of music than DIO made. I don't think Ronnie was really keen on that and neither was the rest of the band. It caused a lot of friction so Ronnie decided he was going to get rid of Viv. That is what happened with that.

Classic Rock Revisited: Do you feel that original line up was the strongest he has ever had?

Vinny: That is the classic lineup. There are certain lineups of bands that are magical. When you replace one of those members then it can still sound good but the magic is just not there. In BLACK SABBATH they had chemistry with Ozzy and with Dio. I did think that was the best lineup for DIO. All the success and all the biggest songs came from that initial line up.

Read the entire interview at www.classicrockrevisited.com.

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