A hologram of the late Ronnie James Dio made its U.S. debut last month 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.
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.
Jeff Pezzuti, CEO of Eyellusion, recently spoke to AXS.com about plans for a tour featuring the hologram, which will showcase various eras of the legendary metal singer's career.
"The tour is currently being routed and we are hoping to make an announcement for an end of year kickoff in the coming months," he said.
"This is not just about the U.S. It is truly a world tour. Ronnie's fans are spread around the world and we intend to bring this exciting show to as many as we can.
"The show will not only feature Ronnie and his band but also live singers like Tim 'Ripper' Owens and others to complete the overall show vision. The show will feature effects and stage design that Ronnie made famous in the '80s and will also incorporate new technology into what will be some pretty awesome special effects. It will be a fun experience for all ages, and a way to experience the incredible catalog [RAINBOW, BLACK SABBATH, DIO] that Ronnie made famous. We will feature both the expected songs, as well as some crowd favorites that will be surprises."
Asked how the fans reacted to seeing the Ronnie James Dio hologram at the Pollstar Awards, Jeff said: "We opened the Pollstar Live! awards on February 2, with the Ronnie James Dio hologram performing with the DIO band. The band, which features Craig Goldy, Simon Wright, Scott Warren and Bjorn Englen, were on point and the performance of 'We Rock' wowed the audience. The room was electric and I was immediately swamped, post-performance, from audience members discussing how impressed they were.
"While we are proud of this performance, it's actually the last time we'll show this version of the Ronnie hologram.
"One comment we kept getting is that people that had seen our Wacken performance video online said that it's nothing compared to actually being in the room and seeing and feeling it — that is what makes people believers.
"We were so happy with the Pollstar Live! experience as an event, and tremendously proud of the panel and awards performance we put together.
"This is the most Ronnie has been talked about since before he passed away.
"We're accomplishing our original vision of making the artists that are so important to the fabric of rock and roll relevant again.
"Looking over at Wendy during the performance and seeing the smile on her face just really says it all."
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."