Craig Goldy says that every show on the "Dio Returns" tour is "a memorial service in the form of a rock concert."
Goldy joined DIO during the "Sacred Heart" tour in 1986 after original guitarist Vivian Campbell was fired from the band following a contentious business disagreement with the singer and Ronnie's management.
For the past several years, Goldy has played sporadic shows with DIO DISCIPLES, which is made up of former members of DIO, along with a rotating lineup of vocalists, including former JUDAS PRIEST frontman Tim "Ripper" Owens.
Billed as a "celebration of the music and legacy of the greatest singer in the world, Ronnie James Dio," DIO DISCIPLES has just completed the 2019 U.S. leg of a world tour during which it is fronted by Ronnie's holographic version for select songs.
The Dio hologram production uses audio of Ronnie's live performances from throughout his career, with the DIO band playing live, consisting of Goldy on guitar, Simon Wright on drums and Scott Warren on keyboards, along with Bjorn Englen on bass. Also appearing with them are Owens and LYNCH MOB frontman Oni Logan.
During a recent appearance on KNON's "Hard Time Radio" show, Goldy defended DIO DISCIPLES' decision to go on tour with a Dio hologram, saying (hear audio below): "Me, Simon and Scott were in his band, and then Ripper was Ronnie's protégé. He was handpicked by Ronnie and had Wendy [Dio] manage him, because he loved his voice so much that, they were not only really good friends, but that was Ronnie's protégé. And then Oni has always been a good friend of ours, and Ronnie just loved him. So this thing was really a family, just like we say. It's a family, and when a family member dies, they often do things to keep their loved ones' memory alive.
"Ronnie made grand gestures, like the dragon and the spider and all that sort of stuff, so this really is just like a grand gesture," he continued. "We all know that there's no way in the world to fully bring back the way Ronnie was on stage — nobody moved like him, nobody sang like him, nobody looked like him.
"Some people think that we're trying to bring him back from the dead and dance on his grave, and they say all this kind of stuff, and it really isn't that at all. It's just a grand gesture for people who understand that this is a family.
"As far as I'm concerned — and I've said this from the very beginning — this is a memorial service in the form of a rock concert," Goldy said. "All the people who loved Ronnie and miss him and miss his music, [this gives them] a chance to all be in the same room with a pumping P.A., with his band playing. They get to hear his protégé and his close friends do his music the best way we know how, and then we also get a chance to hear the band play with his voice and a visual, a replice — let's call a spade a spade: it's a replica of Ronnie. But it's just to give a grand gesture of them being able to, 'Woah! Look at that!' 'Cause it really is the first time that a hologram has been integrated with a live band. That's what happened when we played Germany, at Wacken [Open Air festival in 2016]. And I was quoted in Rolling Stone magazine, because it was actually the very first time that a hologram was integrated with a live band on foreign soil, so that actually made rock and roll history.
"Ronnie's always made rock and roll history; he's always been the pacemaker, the one who sets the pace," the guitarist added. "He's always been the visionary and the one who creates things and does things before somebody else does. He's always been the one who kind of saw things differently than the rest of the world.
"Nobody's ever gonna replace Ronnie — there's never gonna be another Ronnie. Even though I've learned a lot from him — and that DREAM CHILD album shows how much I did actually learn from him. This really is just for people who agree that we miss Ronnie, we love him and we just wanna all hang out in the same place and just have that experience."
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.
After the tour's initial seven-date run was completed in December 2017, Ronnie's hologram underwent "some changes" before the launch of the 2019 leg of the "Dio Returns" world tour.
Hologram production company Eyellusion, which created the Dio hologram, recently signed with the Agency for the Performing Arts (APA), represented by agency partner Steve Martin.