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Gone 5 Years: An Exclusive Interview With WENDY DIO

By Wendy Jasper, Black Metal Aficionado
Tuesday, May 12, 2015 @ 12:54 AM

Ronnie James Dio 5th Year Memorial Weekend Events Champion a Worthy Cause

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Live Photos By Wendy Jasper-Martinez

Five years ago on May 16, 2010, the metal world suffered a debilitating loss when the prolific and innovative Ronnie James Dio lost his battle with cancer. His was a voice that was known worldwide and he was beloved by fans of metal, respected by his peers and influential to the genre at large.

The torch has been carried by his widow, Wendy Dio, and the annual fundraising and memorial events that have occurred since his death have been handled tirelessly by his many fans and friends to raise money for cancer research. The Ronnie James Dio Stand Up And Shout Cancer Fund has raised a million dollars for research thus far and this past year was the official charity of the Monsters Of Rock Cruise.

“When we started the fund, I wanted to make sure that one hundred percent of the funds went to cancer research,” Wendy said. “Ronnie’s doctor is actually on the board of directors, but we have it structured in a way that the charity is solely for research and the funds don’t go toward salaries and other non-research related expenses. The friends that work on the board do it for free and for the love of Ronnie and we are meeting our goals.”

In addition to fundraising events, the proceeds from merchandise, like the DIO tribute shirts that can be ordered from his website, go toward the fund.

“It has been so touching to see the many people that have come forward to donate to the charity. Ronnie had so many friends and he remembered so many people. That is how he was,” she said. “He would remember meeting fans and call them by name. He was a kind person and he truly cared about his fans and the people around him.”

This year, since it is the 5th year anniversary of his death, Wendy wanted to do something special for family, bandmates and fans to remember Ronnie. This coming weekend will be filled with special memorial events.

“On the 15th, we will have the celebrity bowl and so many have lent their time to the event,” she said. “Eddie Trunk will be there, Chris Broderick, Craig Goldie, Ann Boleyn, Joey Vera, Rudy Sarzo, Sean McNabb and so many others. ROUGH CUTT will reunite for a special performance and Jimmy Bain also plans to attend. We have a number of supporters that will not be able to attend because it conflicts with their appearances at the Rock On The Range Festival, but we have several that were close to Ronnie and have made time in their busy schedules to show their support.”

The Celebrity Bowl is not the only event taking place over the weekend. The Memorial at Forest Lawn takes place on Saturday, May 16th and then on Sunday the 17th bikers will roll out for the Ride For Ronnie. The Ride will start at Glendale Harley Davidson and end at Los Encinos Park. At the end of the ride there will be a Bar-B-Cue that will feature live music and Eddie Money is scheduled to perform.

“The memorial will be very special as it is one that fans will be able to attend,” Wendy said. “We wanted to have a large enough space and allow the public to attend and pay their respects and remember Ronnie. There will also be former bandmates and other musicians that Ronnie worked with. We have had fans from all over the world RSVP to attend the memorial.”

Wendy says that she cannot stress enough the importance of proper medical care and preventative check-ups. Early detection is key and she wants people to understand the importance of seeing a doctor regularly.

“Early detection is crucial,” She emphasized. “Ronnie was like many people and did not go to the doctor if he did not feel it was absolutely necessary. He did not know until it was too late. Had there been any indication that something was wrong, I would have been more insistent that he go to the doctor but by the time he did, the cancer was in later stages. He went through his treatments and was doing much better, however, the chemotherapy was taking a toll on him. That year at the Golden God Awards he stated that he was still here and that he was going to kill the dragon and move on with his life. His death was unexpected because he was doing better. He had a very positive attitude and was convinced that he was going to beat it.”

During his lifetime, Dio was hailed as a master storyteller and dominant vocalist. His signature style is influential and other singers strive to emulate his tone; yet he was never awarded by the Academy until after his death. In 2014, the tribute album This Is Your Life was released and Dio’s music was covered by some of the greatest artists of the genre. Comedian and metal fan Jack Black and his metal duo, TENACIOUS D, performed “The Last In Line” on the album and the song was awarded the Grammy for Best Metal Performance.

“Ronnie was so deserving of the Grammy award in his lifetime. I wish he had been here to see it; to see the love that his fans and peers have for him. Ronnie was so humble. He didn’t truly realize how much he touched people or the magnitude of the love his fans had for him,” Wendy said. “It gives me goosebumps to read the stories that have been written about him and to hear accounts of people’s fond interactions with him and how much people want to keep his legacy alive. Ronnie was a perfectionist and he wanted his songs to be just right and he wanted the musicians in his band to have the same tenacity. I recently had a conversation with Doug Aldrich and he said that he now realizes that Ronnie was hard on them because he wanted them to be better players and achieve their goals. He said that it made him a better player and he appreciated Ronnie so much more for it.”

After Ronnie’s death, Wendy closed his studio and says that she had gradually worked through the material that has been left. There is unreleased music that Ronnie was working on, but she is undecided about the future of the music itself.

“Because of how Ronnie felt about his work, I would have to be very careful and analyze the tracks. There are some tracks that were being worked on. Jimmy, Vinnie and Doug have some tracks as well, but in order to do Ronnie justice, it would have to be something that he would approve of; that he would want people to hear and that would make him happy. I don’t know yet if it is something that would achieve those goals so we will have to see,” she said.

The legend that is Ronnie James Dio will never be forgotten. His will always be a voice that will touch the lives of fans and artists alike. Each year there will continue to be memorial events, but this year marks a special anniversary. If you are in the Los Angeles area, these are events not to be missed. The Stand Up And Shout Cancer Fund is one that is worthwhile as so many lives are lost to this dreadful disease each year. This is an opportunity to donate to a worthy cause and to remember the man who brought so much joy to so many people. See the below links to the Ronnie James Dio Official websites for more information.



MAY 15:
Rock & Bowl Celebrity Charity Event at Pinz Bowling Center in Studio City, CA

MAY 16:
Ronnie James Dio 5th Year Memorial Service and Celebration of Ronnie's Music at Forest Lawn Hollywood Hills, CA

MAY 17:
"Ride For Ronnie" Motorcycle Ride from Glendale Harley Davidson to Los Encinos Park for BBQ and Live Music

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