Wendy Dio Shares Her Favorite Late Era Dio Song
Wendy shares her thoughts on the recently released Dio: Dreamers Never Die film documenting Ronnie James Dio's life and legacy and speaks about the four late-era Dio albums that just became available on vinyl, even dropping her favorite Dio song from those four records as well.
Wendy also offers insight on becoming one of the first female rock managers and shares one thing where she feels women might have an advantage over their male counterparts. And Wendy also talks up the annual Bowl for Ronnie benefit coming this Thursday (Nov. 16) in Los Angeles and the work that the Ronnie James Dio Stand Up and Shout Foundation continues to do in aiding cancer research.
Check out the chat in full below.
We've got Wendy Dio on the show with us once again. Happy to have you back with us to discuss all things Dio. Wendy, obviously a lot of time, research and heart went into the Dio: Dreamers Never Die documentary that is now widely available after its theatrical run. In retrospect, how do you think the film did in representing Ronnie and giving fans a full picture of who he was through good and bad? And did you have a favorite moment from the film that best encapsulates Ronnie and his legacy?
Oh, it was a long bittersweet journey and I'm really glad we did it. It took us over three years, but because of the pandemic I think we pulled out more that people never knew about Ronnie. That's what I wanted to put in there were different things I think are really fun. I really enjoyed watching that and listening to some of the music that I hadn't heard in a long time or some of it never heard before.
It's just of the good times, the bad times, in between times; I just wanted people to know the real Ronnie and his life and how it wasn't an easy road to get to where he was. But you know he got there and never gave up, never ever gave up, and always followed his dream.
Dio: Dreamers Never Die Trailer
Wendy, we all have our memories of Dio as one of metal's larger-than-life icons. Admittedly you met him once his career had been going on for a while when he was in Rainbow. How much does it blow your mind that he was doing '50s doo-wop long before you met and before catching the metal bug? Did he ever croon some tunes for you showing off that side of his vocal ability and history?
Never. Never, never. He wouldn't even pick up the trumpet. Many times I asked him to play something on the trumpet. No. Those days were gone. No, no, no. No, he would never do that. Nope, nope. He was always going for the future or everything was for the future.
Doo-wop, those were the days. I mean, he had a band when he was 10. And then, his father was making him play the trumpet since he was five. So he was in bands playing for a long, long time beforehand and doo-wop was the music at the time. And then, of course, the Beatles came in and it was like, oh, this is a different story. And he followed through that and went on to Elf and progressed into Rainbow and Black Sabbath and then his own things and then full circle back with that.
Ronnie was always one to encourage people to follow their dreams. You were very much a pioneer for women in music management overseeing Ronnie's career. That's truly a credit to your own initiative. But can you talk about those early days navigating this new position you took guiding Ronnie's career and how you worked in tandem, supportive of one another?
Yeah, that was a really hard time because there were no women managers, only Sharon [Osbourne] and I. And we had to test the waters there and all the men would go, "Oh, you don't know what you're doing. You're just a wife." You know, go back to that. Give us that. You should give it to us. You should do this and you should do that. And I just listened to what they said, right? They said, oh, yes, that's, you know, thank you so much.
I just did what I wanted to do. Sharon, on the other hand, told them to F off and did what she wanted to do. But we both were successful in doing it and now I'm very happy to see there are many, many women managers and they make great managers. They multitask, they listen to a musician, maybe there's some silly little thing that a man would just pass by, but it was important to a musician. I've seen bands break up over stupid little things where they needed to be listened to and need to work out those things and I think women do that much more than better than men.
Wendy, as fans of music, we always think of the artist when it comes to success, but what was it like for you in real time watching Ronnie's post Sabbath career with Dio take off? Were there moments of that first Holy Diver album cycle that stand out to you as key moments when you thought we're going to be alright or we're really on to something with this response?
Well we didn't have a clue what it was going to do. I mean we just went forward, we mortgaged our house, we were able to get a good space. It was rather hard work, we had to learn to do a lot of things and we didn't have the money to do some of those things. I think when I first saw Ronnie up on the stage with the Holy Diver tour, I got goosebumps because I saw the audience reaction. It was like, yes we did it! We did it and I’m getting goosebumps now thinking about it.
Dio, "Holy Diver" (Live in 1983)
Wendy another big thing in the world of Dio is that Ronnie's final four albums - Angry Machines, Magica, Killing the Dragon and Master of the Moon - are now being issued on vinyl. It's time to take away the manager hat here and let you just be a fan. Of the four records, do you have a favorite and what about the making and supporting of your favorite of these records stood out as special for you?
Well, I think they were very good albums at the time. I'm really happy to have them out again. I think Ronnie would be very happy to see they're on vinyl because he hated it when he could set them in his squash store, the album artwork. I'm very very happy to see it and it's all really different guitar players on this, Craig Goldy, Doug Aldrich, Tracy G, you've got Jeff Pilson, Jimmy Bain, Simon, Vinnie. It's a collection of different artists and I think it's really great and my favorite song on the whole four albums is off of Angry Machines and it's "This Is Your Life."
Dio, "This Is Your Life"
Wendy before we go, I wanted to mention the wonderful work you continue to do with the Ronnie James Dio Stand Up and Shout Cancer Fund and you've got the annual Bowl for Ronnie coming up Nov. 16 at Pinz in Studio City. These gatherings are always so much fun. Do you have a favorite celebrity bowler moment from these events over the years and might you have an update on the cancer research that is being funded with this event?
Yes. It's always fun to see Jack Black up there, Dave Grohl, they're all just there having fun. Everybody lets their hair down and just has fun for the great cause and we raise a lot of money from it. We're working with Dr. [David] Wong. We've been working with him for a couple of years now on his research for stomach cancer and pancreatic cancer. He's developing a saliva test which will be an early detection for those cancers and we're happy to do that. We're happy to receive money from other organizations so that they have money to start up.
We had a day at Vanderbilt where we got $100,000 and then because of that somebody else, they gave $500,000 and because of that they've got an $11 million grant from the government. So, we're really happy. We try to get seed money. We try to get this. One day we have to get rid of these horrible cancers. It's been taking so many people.
Wendy, thank you as always for your time and looking forward to seeing you soon.
Okay, thank you Jackie and thank you for always supporting us.
Thanks to Wendy Dio for the interview. You can learn more about the Ronnie James Dio Stand Up and Shout Cancer Fund and this year's Bowl for Ronnie here. You can get the Dio: Dreamers Never Die documentary film here and the vinyl collection the last four Dio albums can be found here.
Ronnie James Dio Through the Years
Gallery Credit: Lauryn Schaffner