Wendy Dio Mining Ronnie James Dio Recording Vault for Potential Future Releases
Wendy Dio, widow and longtime manager of beloved heavy metal singer Ronnie James Dio, was the latest guest on Full Metal Jackie's weekend radio program.
In her continued effort to keep the Dio legacy active and at the forefront metal fans' minds, Wendy most recently worked with journalist Mick Wall to complete Rainbow in the Dark, the Ronnie James Dio autobiography, which had been started by the singer prior to his death in 2010. To best preserve the story of Ronnie's life and historic music career, the two pieced together the missing elements from archived interviews, which helped maintain the sense that everything had been written in the singer's own voice.
Still, more work lies ahead with a documentary slated for release in 2022 and Wendy has even been working with engineer Wyn Davis to mine the recording vault for any potential material that would be worth releasing as bonus content in the future.
Read the full chat below.
The Ronnie James Dio autobiography, Rainbow in the Dark, is out now. The manuscript for the book was unfinished. When Ronnie passed away, what was most challenging about completing the book without his input?
I think getting the right time and actually getting down to doing it. I kept saying I was going to finish it and then Mick Wall, a journalist from the U.K. who knew us very well and was a very good friend of Ronnie's and knew a lot about Ronnie's history, said, "Wendy, it's time — let's do it."
I said okay, so we spent about a year getting things together. Ronnie had left a bunch of scribbled notes when he was sick and on his computer — the things he wanted to talk about that he had written down. Also, [I] wanted it to continue in his own words, so we went into the archives and found a bunch of interviews he'd done around that time and we knew what he was talking about and where it was coming from.
We kind of pieced it all together with with the notes that he had left in the interviews and that's how it came to completion.
Autobiographies tend to be either 'warts and all' or 'scrubbed clean.' When Ronnie began writing the manuscript, what was his mindset about how he wanted to tell his story?
He just wanted to tell his story about how he wasn't a success overnight and all the things you have to go through in life to get where you want to be.
When he was trying to get someone to look at his demo tapes and everything, even before Elf, he would take the 250 mile trip from upstate New York to New York City and walk around and try to get someone to listen to his demos. He always saw Madison Square Gardens up there and he always thought, "Maybe one day I could play there." That was his ultimate dream to play Madison Square Garden, which he did.
I think his message was to always follow your dreams and never give up.
Dio, "Rainbow in the Dark" Live at Madison Square Garden (2003)
Anyone who met Ronnie knows he was an excellent conversationalist. Why is it important that this book feels like Ronnie's actually chatting with the reader?
We wanted to get that across to make sure it was still him in his voice [as if he] was still talking. He wrote up until almost the end of [his career in] Rainbow, so we wanted it to continue in his own voice. It came across that Ronnie was still speaking to everybody and I hope we accomplished that [by using] his notes and his interviews and stuff that we put together. I chimed in at things that I remembered going on at that time.
Let's talk about the Dio hologram for a moment. It's been put on hold, but there are plans to instead develop a live performance centered around film footage? Why is it important to you that there be some sort of performance vehicle to actively present Ronnie?
Just to keep his music and his legend alive. I think the fans still want to see things [and there are] the people who had not seen Ronnie and I think it's something that the band wants to continue on with and give tribute to Ronnie.
There were band members that played with Ronnie and they always want to continue to pay tribute to Ronnie and to keep his music alive. There's a lot of young bands right now playing his music, which is fabulous in keeping his music alive.
Ronnie James Dio Hologram, "Heaven and Hell" + "Neon Knights" — Live in 2019
Ronnie was fortunate to have worked with numerous musicians who were just as notable as himself. Who else would Ronnie have liked to collaborate with?
He always wanted to do a duet with Chrissy Hynde.
Did you ever discuss it? Was it ever even remotely close to happening?
No but it was something that he always thought would be great and he always wanted to do it, but it was never the right time.
Ronnie was always touring or writing or doing something else and he always put his all into whatever project he was doing at the time. He wasn't good at juggling too many things at one time. He used to always put all of his effort into touring and the stage show or into writing or into performing or into recording.
He had dreams of producing other friends and things like that, but there was never enough time. He always thought that would be something down the road.
Is there anything else coming up for the rest of the year and going into next year that you can let us know about?
We do have a documentary coming out next year, which I'm very excited about. I'm going to see the first cut of it next week. We have the band touring in March. They will go out with our new special effects that we've been working on and we've got some re-releases coming out.
I'm in the vault right now with Ronnie's engineer, Wyn Davis, looking at stuff and seeing if there's any unreleased material that will be good enough to put out as bonus with this stuff.
We've got a lot of stuff going on, and, of course, hopefully we'll be able to do the Ride for Ronnie and the Bowl for Ronnie [charity events] next year, which we haven't been able to do [recently], but there's a lot of plans. We've got a lot of work ahead of us.
Thanks to Wendy Dio for the interview. Get your copy of the 'Rainbow in the Dark' autobiography here and follow Ronnie James Dio on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Spotify. Find out where you can hear Full Metal Jackie's weekend radio show here.