At the 2016 Wacken festival, one of the big pieces of news to arise from the event was the unveiling of a performance of a Ronnie James Dio hologram alongside the member of Dio Disciples. That’s right, you heard me, a hologram. Reports came back from the festival of people in tears, people being completely mindblown, and people being astonished. Am I missing something because when I saw this for myself, a Ronnie James Dio hologram performing live, the only thing I could do was echo the famous words of Walter from The Big Lebowski: “Has the whole world gone crazy? Am I the only one who gives a shit about the rules?” There are so many things that are wrong about this that I can’t even fucking begin to know where to fucking start. I mean, who thought that this was even a good idea? Oh wait, Wendy Dio.
A Ronnie James Dio hologram performing with members past Dio (not even original line up) members just sounds like the most asinine thing on the fucking planet. Nothing screams “give me your fucking money” than this. The Dio hologram made an appearance this at the 2017 Pollstar Awards alongside the Dio Disciples and even after seeing that I had to fight the urge to punch my computer screen while screaming, “What the fuck is this shit?” Wendy Dio, Dio’s now widow and apparently the one to tarnish any kind of acceptable legacy left behind by Dio, had this to say:
““We’re developing a new [hologram] right now with six songs,” Wendy told us. “So if we do an hour show, Ronnie will probably come out four times. If we do a 90-minute show, he’d come out six times. We’re developing that — should be ready by September.” Wendy couldn’t say for sure if the tour would begin in September, but she promises Ronnie’s hologram will perform Rainbow, Dio and Black Sabbath songs!”
If you just read that and didn’t see anything wrong with this there is probably no hope for you at all and you probably thought The Osbournes was a great show. That said, let me start addressing the issue at hand. Technology is something that has been both a blessing and a curse. Some people use technology to do some amazing, ground breaking things while others totally use it like that mad scientist in KISS Meets the Phantom of the Park. Just because it can be done doesn’t mean that it should be done and this is a fine case of this.
I just want someone to tell me why the world needs a goddamn Ronnie James Dio hologram going on tour with a bunch of former Dio band members. There are so many ways that we can keep the spirit of Dio’s music alive for generations and generations to come. Pass down your favorite Dio albums to young people, hell, even Dio’s past band mates have been hitting the road (Last in Line and Dio Disciples) which, while a total way to cash in on his legacy, is still keeping his music out there and playing to those that maybe didn’t get a chance to see him. Even in these two situations, I find them both utterly tasteless and nothing more than a cash grab. “Oh, we’re paying tribute to our fallen leader.” No, you’re touring and playing his songs for big bucks because you either didn’t get called for the Black Sabbath reunion or you’re broke as fuck and don’t wanna join a Foreigner tribute band.
If I want to remember Ronnie, I will pop in my “Finding the Sacred Heart” DVD and watch Ronnie in his prime. I’ll pop in Heaven & Hell Live at Radio City Music Hall to see remember the greatness of Ronnie in his last years. Why in the living hell would I pay money to go to a concert where I would be watching a hologram of Dio lip synching to his own past live performances of songs while some Dio cover band just lifelessly (except for Simon Wright who rules) play these amazing songs? Would anyone pay to say this and if so, I would love to know why. Ronnie himself would be appalled at the very concept of this so why anyone would get behind this kind of ridiculousness is far beyond my comprehension.
The last time I checked, a hologram had no way of expressing any emotion and is about as lifeless a Craig Goldy on stage or even a Claude Schnell keyboard solo. There is no connection to the crowd, no interaction, and none of the emotive gestures that Ronnie was known for in life. I had the pleasure of seeing Ronnie live a handful of times and there was always a certain magic that projected from his physical being. The way he talked to people in the crowd, the way he pointed at people with that shit eating grin, the way that his voice would soar through the stratosphere the more insane the audience would get were all parts of the experience. Why would anyone want to stand around watching a fake Ronnie James Dio on a hologram screen as vocal tracks from past live performances played through the PA while a cover band played the music? I just can’t wrap my head around it.
Wendy Dio, you should be ashamed of yourself. You have the money already. You have the estate. You’ve already started to cheapen the legacy with your ridiculous merchandise ideas ranging from Dio golf balls to Dio Christmas cards. Why can’t you just leave well enough alone and let us remember Ronnie the way we do. Even for those that never got to see Ronnie live, do you really think that they would be elated say, “Dude. I saw the Ronnie James Dio hologram and it was so tight and moving”? No, they won’t. They’ll shell out bucks to see a smoke and mirrors trick that lacks any heart, soul, emotion, or integrity.
Finally, I have to say, shame on you Wendy Dio. How could you even think that this was a good idea? Also, shame on Dio’s former band mates for even choosing to be a part of this. How can you even look at yourselves in the mirror every day and think that this was even remotely and honorable or admirable thing? The last time you guys saw your friend alive should be your fondest memory. Not the fact that you just saw him on a screen on stage. I don’t know about you but the last time I saw Ronnie is how I will always want to remember him and that was as a living, breathing, passionate, and beautiful human being… not a fucking image on a screen.