Jeff Pezzuti, CEO of hologram production company Eyellusion, which created the Ronnie James Dio hologram, has told News-Press that a digital version of Dio is the next best thing for fans who have never seen Ronnie live.
"It's a real metal show," Pezzuti said. "Ronnie looks real. … And it feels real. It definitely feels real."
"You have to suspend your disbelief," he added. "Everybody knows he’s not there. We wish he was, but he's not."
Dio's former bandmate Simon Wright, who is part of the DIO DISCIPLES lineup which will back the hologram, said the tour is a way to celebrate Dio and his music.
"You gotta take it for what it is," Wright said. "We're not trying to resurrect the dead here. It's not voodoo. It's entertainment. It's a show.
"[Ronnie is] not here anymore," the drummer added. "If he was, we wouldn't be doing all this crap. [But] it's great to hear his voice again."
Ronnie's widow and longtime manager, Wendy Dio, who is a member of the Eyellusion team, said that she promised Ronnie before he passed away that she would do everything she could to keep his legend alive. "He was a special person," she said. "Everybody loved him. He loved his fans. His fans were the most important people to him."
The legendary heavy metal singer died in 2010 at the age of 67 from stomach cancer. His hologram made its debut at the Wacken Open Air festival in August 2016 in front of more than 75,000 fans.
The Dio hologram production uses audio of Ronnie's live performances from throughout his career, with the DIO DISCIPLES band playing live, consisting of Wright on drums, Craig Goldy on guitar, and Scott Warren on keyboards, along with Bjorn Englen on bass. Also appearing with them are former JUDAS PRIEST singer Tim "Ripper" Owens and ex-LYNCH MOB frontman Oni Logan.
After the tour's initial seven-date run was completed in December 2017, Ronnie's hologram underwent some changes before the launch of the next leg of the "Dio Returns" world tour, which kicks off on May 31 in Fort Myers.