Last Updated on 30.12.11 Written by Sherri Love
dis•ci•ple (di-sī’p’l), n. 1. a pupil, follower, or adherent of any teacher or school of religion, learning, art, etc.
Webster’s definition above aptly describes DIO DISCIPLES’ as well. Whether it be the band currently touring in homage of the late vocalist Ronnie James Dio, or the millions of fans who have been enthralled by Ronnie’s powerful voice over the past several decades as he fronted some of the most iconic heavy metal bands including RAINBOW and BLACK SABBATH.
an official Dio fan club member, it was a surprisingly spiritual opportunity for me when asked to interview Dio Disciples’ for FALLEN BLUE and SHOCKWAVE Magazine prior to the bands performance at Soundstage Baltimore on Sunday, September 25th, which turned out to be one of those rare evenings when the weather and the city cooperate to produce a magical “time standing still” sort of ambiance… most appropriate for the dressing room dialogs that followed.
Toby, is this your first time in Baltimore?
TOBY JEPSON: No, many years ago when I was the singer/guitarist in the band LITTLE ANGLES and we appeared at a really fabulous place around here. I believe it was called HAMMERJACK’S. That was a really neat venue, great crowd too. Is it still around?
No. Unfortunately, it was tore down to make way for a parking lot when they constructed the new football stadium (everyone’s face forms a grin that is part amusing, but part sad reminders too).
Can you tell me what songs you will be performing tonight? Any in special tribute to Ronnie?
TOBY JEPSON: Well, we don’t want to give away our song list as such, but needless to say, they’re all in homage to Ronnie.
Scott, you’ve performed with Ronnie the longest, correct?
SCOTT WARREN: Yes, since `93. As keyboardist in his band DIO as well as supporting HEAVEN & HELL. He was more than just a band member to us. As much as a mentor and driving force to us all, he was also one of those souls that felt like a family member, too. The outpouring of love and concern by his fans is a testament to this inner force he projected.
I recall several announcements/postings by Ronnie’s wife, Wendy, concerning his prognosis during that time.
SCOTT WARREN: Ronnie’s cancer prognosis in `09 and eventual passing in `10 had been really distressing to all of us, his family, his friends, and his fans alike. It was such a difficult period… especially at the point when it seemed as if he may be beating it (the stomach cancer), but it came as a stunning surprise to us all when it was pronounced that he would not survive.
So do you see this tour as healing process for everyone… the band, the fans, and Ronnie’s family?
SCOTT WARREN: That’s a wonderful way to look at it… it really is. Ronnie would have wanted this tour to happen… he would have loved the positive effects, a sort of closure, for us all to experience. If we didn’t do this tour, there may have been all sorts of unofficial “tribute” bands popping up, with their hearts in the right places, but not being able to present the healing force you so aptly described. We felt we were in the unique position to fully do this as the last and finest line-up to represent Ronnie’s musical spirit.
OK, would anyone care to confirm that Ronnie’s severed thumb incident was indeed actually attributed to a garden troll run amok?
SIMON WRIGHT: I will go on record to confirm that it was, indeed, a true event.
SCOTT WARREN: I did not witness the event, but I went through the empty kitchen afterwards. So much blood everywhere… on the floor, in the sink, and nobody around. Quite frightful for me. I had no idea what had happened.
Is Murray (Dio’s mascot) on tour as well? Is he scheduled to make an appearance tonight? I thought I saw him lurking behind your drum set? (everyone laughs)
SIMON WRIGHT: You never know with Murray! But I do hope you’ll stay around to find out!
Which I did, but not before snacking at several eateries and strolling through the Mount Vernon area… taking in the idyllic “time standing still” feeling encountered everywhere I went. I got back just in time as DIO DISCIPLES’ started their show. “Ripper” was the lead vox for the first several songs, then Toby came on stage… neither were gentle. Craig, Simon, Scott, and Rudy were just downright ferocious! If any healing was going to occur, it wasn’t going to happen until after these guys assaulted the crowd in authentic heavy metal fashion. But I got misty eyed early on… I just couldn’t help it… I miss my little Ronnie…
NOTE: Although Tim “Ripper” Owens (vox) and Craig Goldy (guitar) were unavailable at the time of the interview, Rudy Sarzo (bass) was present. Despite Rudy being focused on practicing his bass with headphones on, he did not seem annoyed by our presence or the events going on around him…. his perseverance seemed to add to the atmosphere of the interview, just another serene element that left everyone there a tiny bit heavy hearted and the reason we’re all here.
Sherri Love is creator of Maryland Musicians Network and co-founder of the Maryland Music Media Alliance.