DON McLEAN is full of shit. Forget that sappy "American Pie" crap; the real day the music died was May 16, 2010, when Ronnie James Dio lost his battle with stomach cancer. On that day, music was robbed of one of its most talented and gracious performers. Long before he was killing the dragon, Dio was doing doo-wop as far back as the late '50s, but it's his influence on rock and metal—with Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow, his stint in Black Sabbath, and his solo career—that's truly immeasurable.
So what can mourners do to remember their fallen hero (besides erecting a statue of the man, like they did in Kavarna, Bulgaria)? According to Dio guitarist Craig Goldy, you can celebrate Ronnie's music with some of the people who miss him the most—his fans.
With the blessing of Ronnie's wife and manager Wendy Dio, Goldy and drummer Simon Wright formed Dio Disciples, a band featuring other members of Dio's solo band and Tim "Ripper" Owens and Oni Logan on vocals. They've done a handful of festival dates and small tours paying homage to the legend since last year, and for Goldy and the rest of the band, it's been quite a cathartic journey.
"When we play there's always a moment when the band and the audience connect. Everybody is singing along, there're people in the audience that are crying, and they're looking up at the sky like they're singing to Ronnie in heaven. It's a really emotional experience."
For those who are already thinking this is just some quick cash grab, think again. "I'd be more then happy to let people look at my bank account," laughs Goldy. "It's not about money. It's driven by our love and respect for a family member who died. We are, with true intentions, just saying, 'Hey, remember this?'"
Diehard fans of Ronnie and the legacy he left behind may lament such blasphemy. How could we ever replace anybody as charismatic and important as Ronald James Padavona? The simple fact is, we won't and we can't. But why not throw up Dio's patented horns and hear his tunes cranked out by people who knew him as a friend? It's either that or sob into your speakers at home.