A hologram of the late Ronnie James Dio made its U.S. debut last night (Thursday, February 2) at the 28th annual Pollstar Awards at the The Novo (formerly Club Nokia) in Los Angeles, California. Created by Eyellusion, the appearance of the heavy metal icon took place during a performance by DIO DISCIPLES, which pays tribute to Ronnie and is fully supported by his widow/manager, Wendy.Pollstar Awards honors the best of the worldwide concert industry as the concluding event of Pollstar Live!, which will be held January 31 to February 2 at the J.W. Marriott hotel. "We were thrilled to give this audience just a taste of the experience that we will start to tour globally later this year," said Jeff Pezzuti, CEO of Eyellusion. "This 'We Rock' performance is now being retired and production is underway on a full show. We are pulling out all the stops to create a live experience that is unlike anything Ronnie's fans have seen before."
The day before the performance, as part of the Pollstar Live! conference program, Pezzuti led an Eyellusion-organized panel of music industry veterans in a discussion about the touring hologram opportunity. The session featured Wendy Dio, digital effects pioneer Scott Ross, McGhee Entertainment senior vice president Mark Stroman, Rhino Entertainment president Mark Pinkus, TKO president Andrew Goodfriend, and Singerman Entertainment owner Todd Singerman. DIO DISCIPLES features former DIO members Simon Wright (drums), Craig Goldy (guitar) and Scott Warren (keyboards) alongside vocalist Tim "Ripper" Owens (JUDAS PRIEST, ICED EARTH, YNGWIE MALMSTEEN) and bassist Bjorn Englen (YNGWIE MALMSTEEN). They are joined by singers Oni Logan (LYNCH MOB) and Joe Retta (SWEET, HEAVEN & EARTH). The Dio hologram was first introduced at last year's Wacken Open Air festival in Germany. Pezzuti recently spoke about plans for a 2017 tour featuring the hologram, which will showcase various eras of the legendary metal singer's career. "For the tour, he's going to have different looks," Pezzuti told the "Talking Metal" podcast. At Wacken, the hologram was built around Dio's image from "somewhere around '88, the 'Dream Evil' era. For this next tour, we're going to be somewhere later than that for certain songs and maybe earlier than that for other songs." Pezzuti went on to promise "an over-the-top, mind-blowing experience. We are going to have both live singers with Ripper Owens and Oni Logan as part of the show, as well as Ronnie appearing throughout the show at different parts, some duets. It's going to be mind blowing from the fans' perspective. We are going to bring album covers to life. We are going to bring things that are known to Ronnie to life onstage." The concerts will include several classic tracks from Ronnie, Pezzuti revealed. "Ronnie will be involved in each show from probably six to seven songs a night that he will be singing on," Jeff said. "Some of the ones we can expect are 'We Rock', 'Holy Diver' and 'Rainbow In The Dark'." Wendy, who manages DIO DISCIPLES and is affiliated with the Eyellusion team, said last year that she was blown away by the initial public appearance of the Ronnie James Dio hologram. "When I first experienced the full production of Ronnie performing with his band as a hologram, I couldn't believe my eyes and ears," she said. "We have been able to get Ronnie back up on stage where he belongs, ensuring that his music and memory live on." Goldy defended DIO DISCIPLES' decision to perform with the Dio hologram, saying: "We know how much the fans miss Ronnie and the special and unequaled element that he brought to his live performances. Being able to recreate that same kind of magic for his fans at Wacken was incredible. For so many years, Ronnie always invested big in his live shows as his way to give back to the fans, and that is exactly what we aimed to do with this latest performance. We can't wait to bring this experience to even more of his fans and perhaps even a newer generation when we bring this incredible live experience on the road."