A hologram of the late Ronnie James Dio made its U.S. debut this past February 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.
The Dio hologram was first introduced at last year's Wacken Open Air festival in Germany.
During an appearance on the "Talk Toomey" podcast, Wendy spoke about plans for a tour featuring the hologram, which will showcase various eras of the legendary metal singer's career.
"We're getting prepared for that right now," she said (hear audio below). "We're making a new [hologram]. We're making, like, eight songs. So we're working on that. That should be ready by September, and we're hoping to go out and start touring in September on that."
She continued: "I feel that Ronnie was an innovator in music, and why not be an innovator in technology also? He tried to make a hologram in 1986. When we had the [DIO] 'Sacred Heart' tour, we did the big crystal ball with Ronnie's head in there talking, which was actually done with a rear projection, but we were always trying to do new things and exciting things. In fact, his personal [assistant] just called me a couple of weeks ago and he said, 'Hey, Wendy, I just found this interview that Ronnie did a long time ago, and they were asking Ronnie [if he had] plans to retire, and 'What will you do when you retire?' And he said, 'Well, I don't think I'll ever retire. I'll probably die on stage. Or if I don't, I'm sure Wendy will find something for me to do after.' [Laughs] So I thought that was quite funny."
Wendy, who manages DIO DISCIPLES and is affiliated with the Eyellusion team, also spoke about the response the hologram has gotten from Ronnie's fans and other musicians. "Some [reactions] are positive, some are negative," she said. "If you've actually seen it… I think the people that have actually seen it are very positive. We debuted it at Wacken last year in Germany for seventy-five thousand people, and they were all totally, totally blown away. And also, it's never been done before, because this is a live band — Ronnie's live band that he played with for the last seventeen years, with Ronnie, with a live track of Ronnie's. And it was so realistic; everybody was, like, crying, and it was very moving. And I think it's great for the fans that never saw Ronnie, that are able to come and see him. And for the ones that did see him that would love to see him again up on stage."
Hologram world tours have previously been announced, but never come to fruition. In 2015, it was announced that Whitney Houston would go on the road in holographic form, but a leak of a duet with Christina Aguilera, which suggested the hologram was not up to scratch, led to the withdrawal of the Houston hologram by her estate.
According to Wendy, it's only a matter of time before other rock legends return to life through holograms, the three-dimensional light projections that have opened new frontiers for the live music and other industries. "Absolutely," she said. "I think the company that we're working with is talking to a lot of different people. And I think it's the way of the future. It's like people were, 'Ooooh…' when the eight-track came out, 'Ooooh, what's this?' And then cassette. 'Oooh, what's this?' And digital, 'What's this? Oh, we don't wanna do that. We only want analog. We don't want digital.' But you know what? It's technology. And also, we're losing our legends day by day; we're losing the innovators of metal and hard rock music; we're losing 'em every day. What are we gonna do? I don't see a lot of bands coming up to take their place."
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).
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."
As previously reported, the third annual Ride For Ronnie motorcycle ride and concert, benefiting the Ronnie James Dio Stand Up And Shout Cancer Fund, will take place on Sunday, May 7. Riders will assemble for a continental breakfast at Harley-Davidson of Glendale with kickstands up at 11 a.m. The Ride will take them through the streets of Los Angeles County to Los Encinos Park in Encino, where they will be treated to an afternoon of live music, raffle and live auction, food trucks and more. Last year's Ride For Ronnie event raised over $50,000 for the cancer charity.
This year's live entertainment in the park will be provided by rockers LYNCH MOB, Eddie Money, ROUGH CUTT, DIO DISCIPLES, THE LOVELESS, Sonia Harley and NO SMALL CHILDREN.
A silent auction will be conducted at one of the exhibit booths throughout the afternoon, while live auctions, featuring one-of-a-kind rock collectibles, will be held during intervals between artist performances.
Food trucks will be on site throughout the day. Those participating include Slammin' Sliders, G's Taco Spot, Greenz on Wheelz and Archie's Ice Cream. Sponsors lending their continued support to the Ride For Ronnie are Harley-Davidson of Glendale, Law Tigers and Ninkasi Brewing Company. New sponsors to the event this year include Bigg Time Entertainment and L.A.'s rock radio station 95.5 KLOS.
Both riders and concert-goers can purchase their tickets by visiting www.diocancerfund.org/events.