Tim "Ripper" Owens says that he is "one hundred percent sure" that Andrew Freeman wasn't talking about him when he made the recent comment that "a couple of guys" in the DIO DISCIPLES camp are "dicks."
DIO DISCIPLES is made up of former members of DIO, along with a rotating lineup of singers, including Owens.
Freeman, who formed LAST IN LINE in 2012 with original DIO members Vivian Campbell (guitar), Vinny Appice (drums) and Jimmy Bain (bass), told the "Music Mania" podcast in an interview that while he is on friendly terms with several members of DIO DISCIPLES, "there's a couple of guys in that camp that are dicks — to put it bluntly. And personally, I've been affected by it, because I've been told, 'We can't use you [for shows] because you're playing with Vivian,'" he said. "But that doesn't come from the band guys — that comes from other places… They told me I wasn't gonna be able to do a gig because I played with Vivian. I was just, like, 'Okay.'"
Owens was asked to comment on Freeman's inflammatory comments during a brand-new interview with the "Music Mania" podcast.
"Andrew and I are friends, and we even talked after that — we kind of laughed," the former JUDAS PRIEST singer said (hear audio below). "'Cause I said jokingly [on Twitter in response to his comment], 'I'm a dick.' But the best part was the headline on Blabbermouth [after that] was so fantastic that I wanna frame it. Because all it said was, 'Tim 'Ripper' Owens Says He's A Dick.' And that was it. That was the headline. It was so fantastic. [Laughs] I love it."
According to Tim, LAST IN LINE and DIO DISCIPLES can coexist without fans having to choose between the two bands. "I get it that people talk bad and they bicker back and forth and 'I don't like this' and 'I don't like that,'" he said. "Hey, listen, LAST IN LINE is fantastic. They've got original CDs out. They sound fantastic. Some of the members were Ronnie's first band. DIO DISCIPLES is fantastic. I would imagine everybody started this for the right reason. We're certainly doing it for the right reason. I certainly don't do DIO DISCIPLES to line my pockets with money, because it's not doing that. We do it because we love to celebrate Ronnie. And that's what everybody does — same with so many people. They love to celebrate Ronnie. That's why we do this. And there's enough room for all of us. Dick and all, there's enough room for all of us."
Owens went on to say that he was convinced that Freeman was referring to someone else when he made his original comments.
"I've gotta be honest. I was one hundred percent sure that he wasn't talking [about] me, because we're friends," he said. "So that was even the funniest part about it, because I know he's not talking about me. And I'm not a dick about the whole situation. And I get it — people bicker back and forth, and they say things. The music business is like a family sometimes, and you say things. And that's just what it is. Look, I put my foot in my mouth every interview, and I did already in this interview probably, so that's just the way it is. But I'm not gonna attack him. And I know I probably even said something about them in the past. And that was only because they were saying something about us. And finally I just said, 'Listen, I don't care. That's great. I would go watch 'em.' They're celebrating Ronnie. I'm gonna go watch 'em when they come into town. Period."
In a 2016 interview, Vivian slammed DIO DISCIPLES, saying that the band has "zero credibility" as a Ronnie James Dio tribute project despite the fact that it is fully supported by the late singer's wife and manager, Wendy.
"I don't think [LAST IN LINE is] even in the same league as the DIO DISCIPLES," Campbell said. "None of those guys were original members of the band DIO. We're the original band. We're the guys who formed the band with Ronnie. Not only were in the band, but we wrote all the songs with Ronnie. If you look at the writing credits on the first three records, it was very, very much a collaborative creative venture. That's what made the early DIO records so strong."
In December 2017, DIO DISCIPLES guitarist Craig Goldy said in a Facebook post that "certain members" of the original DIO band became motivated by "money" because they "didn't have the same heart for the fans" as Ronnie James Dio did.