Drummer Simon Wright, currently of DIO DISCIPLES and also known for his work in DIO, RHINO BUCKET and UFO, was recently interviewed by the WSOU 89.5 FM radio station. You can now listen to the chat using the SoundCloud widget below.
Asked how big of a role legendary heavy metal singer Ronnie James Dio played in his life, Simon said: "He was a massive part. When I joined [DIO] in 1990, it was a little. short [run]. [I] was only about three years with him when I first joined. And then I rejoined again in '98. And I ended up moving into his house. There were a few people staying there as well. I went through a horrible divorce — blah blah blah — and I was gonna quit. I said, 'I'm going back to England. I've had enough of all this. I'll stop playing drums.' So he said, 'No, don't do that. Just come over and just hang at my place and stuff, and get your head together.' And I ended up staying there for about 14 years. [Laughs] So he was quite a big part of my life. We got to know each other. We kind of bonded a bit more. We did a lot of work on the house together — not doing music, but just building things and stuff. And I looked after him a lot when he got really, really sick at home."
Wright went on to say that Ronnie's death eight years ago was "a massive loss to me and to a lot of people. He was such a clever, smart, funny, funny guy. And what a singer and what a songwriter — you know, amazing."
Asked what it was like living with Ronnie for such a long period, Simon said: "It was good at the house. He had a studio downstairs and stuff. And when the writing process started for the albums, that was always great. He had some incredible ideas. To actually be there and see that process happening was something I'll never forget. It's amazing stuff."
Ronnie passed away of stomach cancer on May 16, 2010 at the age of 67.
This past fall, Wright defended DIO DISCIPLES' decision to go on the road with a hologram of Ronnie James Dio, saying that "there are so many people who didn't get a chance to see Ronnie live, so now they will get to see him as live as is possible. It's gonna be a big show, big production," he added. "It's gonna be good."
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.