SIMON WRIGHT On RONNIE JAMES DIO Hologram Tour: 'It's Us Keeping His Legacy Alive'

SIMON WRIGHT On RONNIE JAMES DIO Hologram Tour:  'It's Us Keeping His Legacy Alive'

DIO DISCIPLES drummer Simon Wright (AC/DC, DIO, UFO) recently spoke with Meltdown of the Detroit radio station 101 WRIF. The full conversation can be streamed below. A few excerpts follow (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET).

On Ronnie James Dio:

Simon: "He would always go out of his way with people. He was a good listener. [He] had an incredible memory. He was just remarkable, and a true professional. Workaholic. There's so many things you can say about him. I wish he was [still] around... When I was in AC/DC, we did these shows called 'Monsters Of Rock'. DIO was on the bill in, I think it was the Swedish one we did. I got to sit with him a bit and stuff, and he was very helpful. I was still a kid in that band, and I was in this big-stage arena place that I'd been dropped into. He gave me some good advice without pushing it on me. He was very cool. He helped me out quite a lot. Right from there, I felt like I could trust this guy. He seemed like a really down-to-earth, great guy. I was lucky enough to end up in his band. I couldn't believe it, and we went from there. I remember seeing him in '77 with RAINBOW in Manchester, England, and who would have thought I'd end up in his band? I was at the front of the stage, and then I end up in his bloody band. It was a wonderful time. I really miss him."

On what he believes Dio would think of the "Dio Returns" hologram tour:

Simon: "I think he would have lots of questions about it — he would have looked at the technical side of it, and then he would have asked some more questions about it. He's a very motivated man. He was right up on technology with regards to anything that was coming out that was new. He was one of the first to get a computer. You think back, the transition we had from cassettes to CDs to DVDs and stuff like that, he was always there — he was always checking stuff out and all. When you think back about some of the shows he put on — the DIO shows with the big production and stuff like that — Wendy [Dio, Ronnie's widow and longtime manager] told me that him and her were talking about holograms a long, long time ago, and could they use them? I'm not quite sure the technology was as advanced as it is now back then, but he was well up on all the technology. I think that he'd have some questions, but he'd see what an incredible piece of technology that it is. It's a continuation, really, of entertainment. You had albums, cassettes, CDs, DVDs, and now you've got holograms... It's really just another form of technology. It's not like we're trying to resurrect him from the dead. We know what happened to him... It's us keeping his legacy alive and celebrating him in a live situation, and I think he would like that."

On what he would say to anyone on the fence about the idea of hologram tours:

Simon: "There's a lot of people who are skeptical about it and stuff like that, but just come and have a look and see if you like it. If you do, you do; if you don't, you don't. It's as simple as that. Like I said, we're not trying to fool anybody here. It's just another form of entertainment. We loved Ronnie. He was our family. He's like a father to me — not just me, but the rest of the guys in the band. A lot of work [went] into this, a lot of care, a lot of thought and a lot of love."

On having to use a click track during the tour:

Simon: "We have to do that because the vocal is taken from another place, another time. Obviously, it's live, and they put the click-track to that vocal track so we can follow it and all keep on the same page... I'm neither here nor there, really. I've used it in the studio obviously now, with Pro Tools around and stuff, but it's a little bit different playing with a click track live on stage. It's okay. I'm getting used to it. It's not too bad."

On the initial DIO hologram tour, which took place in Europe in late 2017:

Simon: "People seemed to like it. They wanted to see what was going on first, but they definitely got into it. It's a rock show. It's not anything that's kind of, like, static, just with a hologram and stuff. It's like a rock show — a normal rock show. Everybody seemed to like it in the end. The crowds got bigger and bigger."

On the structure of the show:

Simon: "We do seven [songs with the hologram], and the rest of the set is us doing all of Ronnie's classics and stuff. We've dug in a little bit deeper for a couple of tunes. We're always trying to do that, even with the DISCIPLES show. We're trying to put in songs that people have maybe heard before, but not for a long time, or some that people have never heard before live. It's a good problem to have, fitting all the songs in."

On what else the band performs:

Simon: "It's RAINBOW and [BLACK] SABBATH as well. We haven't gone as far back as ELF yet, but at some point, I think we will. It might not be with this hologram, but with DIO DISCIPLES, we're always up for any ideas and trying stuff out."

The ongoing "Dio Returns" hologram tour — which features DIO alumni Wright, guitarist Craig Goldy, bassist Björn Englen and keyboardist Scott Warren, as well as vocalists Tim "Ripper" Owens (JUDAS PRIEST) and Oni Logan (LYNCH MOB) — wraps up June 29 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

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