Rockers Ride + Roll for a Good Cause at 3rd Annual Ride for Ronnie
The Ride for Ronnie started in 2015, coinciding with the 5th anniversary of the death of legendary metal singer Ronnie James Dio. In the years since, it has become a staple of the spring music calendar, as rockers, celebs and fans of Dio gather at the Harley-Davidson in Glendale, Calif., ride to Los Encinos Park in Encino, Calif., and then enjoy a day of music, food and fundraising for cancer research, all in the name of the late Dio, Black Sabbath, Rainbow and Elf vocalist.
This year’s event faced some inclement weather, but didn’t dampen the spirits of those taking part. Sons of Anarchy actor and one of the stars of the spin-off series Mayans MC Emilio Rivera was on hand with some of his cast mates and told us, “I’ve lost so many people to cancer. I just lost two more people this year, so this is special to me.” He added, “The people who are here today in the rain are here because they really wanted to be here. We want to be here today and it’s a beautiful thing.” Rivera rode his Heritage bike in the ride.
Meanwhile, former Guns N’ Roses guitarist Gilby Clarke claimed to have the oldest bike in the ride. “I have the oldest motorcycle here. I have a 1941 Knucklehead,” says Clarke. “I’m a bike guy and I actually have a motorcycle garage and I have four bikes and I build them myself and do all the work, the welding, the metalwork, everything. I do it all myself. It’s just a hobby.” Clarke says that anytime there’s an opportunity to do a little part to bring attention cancer research, he feels it’s important to get involved.
Another one of the riders at the Glendale Harley Davidson was Dr. Sandeep Kapoor, who treated Ronnie James Dio and has since become a board member for the Stand Up and Shout Cancer Foundation. “[Ronnie’s] message is loud and clear to me that we really have an obligation and duty to really focus on screening for cancer and getting awareness out because early detection saves lives,” says Kapoor. “Really the fans and everyone in the music industry and beyond have really joined in this crusade to not only honor Ronnie but to make a difference and save lives.”
After leaving Glendale, it was a quick trip under overcast skies before arriving at Los Encinos Park. In addition to Clarke, Rivera and Kapoor, other riders included Lynch Mob‘s Sean McNabb, Lita Ford and more. With the bikes parked in a row outside Los Encinos Park, it was time for some music.
No Small Children got things off on the right note. The trio of school teachers-turned-rockers had boundless energy, catchy tracks and knew exactly how to engage the crowd. With songs like “I Don’t Want To,” “Creepy Drunk Guy” and the set closing “I Might Get Up Slow But I’ll Get Up,” these ladies certainly warmed up the crowd on the chilly California day.
Next up came Sonia Harley, who delivered a truly explosive performance. With a killer band behind her, Harley proclaimed “We came here to rock today,” and rock they did. A high energy spin on Jimi Hendrix’s “Red House” and the attention grabbing rocker “HBIC” were among the set highlights.
Former That Metal Show host and current host of a daily show on Sirius XM’s Volume channel 106 Eddie Trunk was the emcee for the day, filling time between sets often by leading some live auctions. Trunk, who has had a major presence at many of the Stand Up and Shout Cancer Fund events, told us, “It’s great to see the fans coming out. It’s great to see the support for it and I think really what this serves beyond the charitable thing and the money for the fund which of course is incredibly important, but I think above and beyond that what this does is it brings Ronnie’s fans together, the community together and a lot of people here were good friends or fans of Ronnie’s and it’s just a great thing to keep his memory alive. It really serves a lot of purposes.”
The Loveless offered a change of pace during the early afternoon, bringing their brand of psychobilly to the stage. The band put their own take on familiar cover songs like “Summertime Blues” and “California Sun” in the midst of original tracks.
Following the performance from The Loveless, Trunk welcomed Wendy Dio and Dr. Sandeep Kapoor to the stage as they presented their latest $25,000 check to Dr. David Wong. Wong and the UCLA School of Dentistry have been investigating the development of a non-invasive saliva test that will help in determining early detection of cancer.
Keeping the music going, rock legend Eddie Money took the stage with a band consisting mainly of his kids. Money kept things lively with humorous stage banter between songs and a set list consisting of such familiar favorites as “Shakin,” “Baby Hold On,” “Two Tickets to Paradise” and “I Think I’m in Love” among others. Money had a long-standing friendship with Ronnie James Dio and was happy to take part. The singer, who also took part in the first Ride for Ronnie, told us, “I think the music gets better year after year. And one of the thing about these heavy metal bands, they’ve got to have a great drummer. If you listen, the guitar players are always great, and I love it too because everyone dresses in black and I’m a black kind of guy and I was pretty well received up there. They were really nice to my kids as well.”
The skies began to open up with some rain coming down during Rough Cutt’s set, but that didn’t deter the band. Singer Paul Shortino took to the stage with an umbrella, using it almost as a stage prop throughout the band’s set. The energy from those fans who hadn’t sought cover was among the best of the day and their set ended on a high note as the group welcomed many of the rockers on hand to join them onstage for a performance of the Hear N’ Aid song “Stars.” Sean McNabb, in particular, could be seen pointing toward the sky at the end of the song with a nod to Ronnie.
One of the biggest responses of the day came for Steven Adler, who was a late addition to the bill, bringing in some guest players to rock out a trio of Guns N’ Roses favorites. Starting the show with “Welcome to the Jungle,” Budderside’s Patrick Stone handled vocals with Alex Grossi and Robert Sarzo on guitar and Jeff Pilson handling bass. Pilson, in particular, was a wild man onstage, reaching his bass toward the crowd letting fans attempt to strum a few notes at the end. Despite some initial microphone woes, Lita Ford did a stellar job with “Sweet Child O’ Mine,” with Stone returning to the stage late in the performance to duet with her and help with the mic as well. Stone watched on in amazement as Sarzo riffed away on the familiar Slash parts, putting his own stamp on it. Finishing out the set, Whitesnake‘s Mike Devin joined Stone for co-vocals on “Rocket Queen.”
Adler was just thrilled to be at the show, telling us, “I’m a huge fan of Ronnie and I love his widow Wendy and it’s just so exciting to be here. It’s really cool and it’s cool to be around a bunch of rockers. And I mean A BUNCH of rockers. There’s a lot of leather here.”
Dio Disciples were up next, and obviously having a close tie to the late Ronnie James Dio, we spoke with Craig Goldy about seeing the response from fans at these events. “I think the great thing is that it draws more and more people and brings attention to the cancer fund which is the main purpose,” said an emotional Goldy. “It just shows how big of a family that man had. I’m almost ready to cry again. It’s been seven years, but it’s our family. So when a family member dies, the other family members do things to help keep their memory alive.”
With Joe Retta’s powerful voice cutting through the band’s masterful playing, Dio Disciples delivered such favorites as “Holy Diver,” “Stand Up and Shout,” “Heaven and Hell” and “Rainbow in the Dark” with fans pumping their fists along with the beat.
Finishing out the day, the mighty Lynch Mob took the stage. George Lynch riffed away during some of the final raffled items of the day and later joined Oni Logan, Sean McNabb and Jimmy D’Anda for a heavy, muscular set sending fans home on a high note.
All in all, it was a successful day raising funds for cancer research, with a lot of love shared between bands and fans and a great time had by all. Check out our photos from the 3rd Annual Ride for Ronnie in the gallery above.
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