One of the most discussed concert moments of 2016 came earlier this year at the Wacken Festival in Germany when the members of Dio Disciples took the stage for the first time with a Ronnie James Dio hologram. With the initial introduction being such a success, there are plans for a more expanded usage of the hologram during Dio Disciples shows in 2017.

The hologram was created by the Eyellusion company, and CEO Jeff Pezzuti told us at the recent Bowl 4 Ronnie event, "I was a huge fan growing up and I thought it would be different and exciting to bring back Ronnie with the live band, making it the first time with that band."

Pezzuti, who first saw Dio on their 1985 "Sacred Heart" tour, says he became a fan at that point and interested in paying homage to the music hero. "The biggest challenge was making it as authentic as possible and making it come to life. It had to be right and it had to be from the heart and it had to really, really resemble and be as if Ronnie was there," says the CEO.

Keyboardist Scott Warren says of the initial performance, "It was amazing. It's a brand new technology, so it was a challenge. It was a year in the making, but for all of us it was a learning curve. We didn't have time to set up. It was a throw and go and Wacken festival usually happens very fast. But the hologram thing is a work in progress, and it started out with a blast."

He adds, "I think it's very important because I know that there is always with new technology that age old question of just because we can, should we, and there are some things that would raise a lot of controversial issues, but I know Ronnie and Dio was a live band and Ronnie was a live singer and I know that this would be what he would've wanted."

Guitarist Craig Goldy says it's something done in the spirit of what Dio would have loved. "During the 'Sacred Heart' tour with the 18-foot dragon, this fire breathing dragon with lasers out of his eyes. [Ronnie] didn't fight the prices. He cut his own profit margin in half basically to give back to the fans. 'Dream Evil,' it was the same type of thing. He had a mechanical spider that came down and I shot lasers out of my guitar. So, in this similar vein, we didn't hike up the prices. We gave back to the fans. So this happened at Wacken and the people of Wacken went along with us. We brought back that big stage and what we tried to do as a gift to the fans was to give them him. It wasn't like we were trying to raise him from the dead. We know that he's gone, but he's not gone. People love him because of the kind of person he was. So that was our way of giving in a similar way something spectacular, above and beyond just showing up and putting amps and drums on the stage and playing. Ronnie brought that "Oh my God" moment, so that's what we tried to do in a similar way just to keep that alive."

Wendy Dio echoed that sentiment adding, "If you saw the 'Sacred Heart' tour when we had the crystal ball that came down with Ronnie's head in it, we were trying to create a hologram then. So when [Jeff] approached me and we wrapped our head around it and it took a year to develop with a lot of money, but we thought that this would be good for a lot of people who loved Ronnie and would love to see him again as well as the fans who didn't get the opportunity to see him."

Wendy says that Dio Disciples are tentatively plotting to do about 10 festivals next year with the hologram, with potentially as many as six songs with Ronnie. Pezzuti adds, "Wendy and I will come up with a decision on how to do it and there will definitely be dates and it'll be a bigger show and a lot of fun for everybody."

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