By Andrew Bansal
[Photos by Brad Worsham]
March 17th 2014, The Avalon, Hollywood CA: The Ronnie James Dio ‘Stand Up And Shout’ Cancer Research Fund, named after the legendary heavy metal singer and founded after his death in 2010, hosts an annual gala event in Los Angeles to celebrate the life of the great man, honor musicians and industry folk with awards, and through ticket sales and auctions, raise money to further the cause of cancer research. The 3rd edition of this gala took place at the Avalon in the heart of Hollywood last night, and this time it was also a celebration of the release of ‘This Is Your Life’, an all-covers album in tribute to Dio. As always, the who’s who of hard rock and heavy metal were present, and it promised to be an entertaining evening for attendees.
RED CARPET & INTERVIEWS:
Before the show itself, a red carpet was organized at the entrance of the venue to welcome the celebrities attending the event and showcase them in front of the press gathering. It began at 6 PM and lasted until 7:30, with prominent hard rock bands and personalities like Rob Halford, Lita Ford, Scott Ian, Dio Disciples, Halestorm, Stone Sour, Rita Haney, and several others gracing the carpet. Also walking the carpet in the early stages was Sandeep Kapoor, medical director and co-founder of the Stand Up And Shout Cancer Fund, and accompanying him was Indian actress/model Pooja Batra whose mere presence came as a pleasant surprise and suddenly awoke the dormant Indian in me.
Some of these people were also doing interviews with the press, and I managed to catch two of them:
Interview with Rudy Sarzo
On being part of this event:
Everything having to do with Ronnie to me is very special because I got to learn so much from being in his band from 2004 until he passed away. When I joined Dio, I had no idea what a special part of my career that was going to be, because at that time I had been about 25 years doing music. So I thought I had seen it all and learnt everything already, but then Ronnie took it to the next level. He really did, and I learnt so much, not only about music but also about how to be the best human being that you can be. I would say the people who never met him have missed out on that because to really get to know Ronnie was a blessing. It really was.
On the ‘This Is Your Life’ tribute album:
Of course it was long overdue. It could have been done while he was still with us but just the fact that it’s done and all his friends and peers have come together to honor him with his music, I’m just very honored to have been a small part of it along with the rest of the Dio band. We recorded the track ‘Catch The Rainbow’ with Glenn Hughes, so it was a really great opportunity for all of us to be together in one room and revisit the magic once again.
On Glenn Hughes singing Dio songs:
You know, all of them are in a class by themselves. There’s one Glenn Hughes, there’s one Ronnie James Dio, and the rest.
On what he’s doing musically these days:
Simon Wright and myself have been part of Geoff Tate’s version of Queensrÿche. We’ve been on tour for about a year now doing that and just having a wonderful time.
Interview with Oni Logan
On playing in Dio Disciples and singing Dio songs:
I think it’s made me a better vocalist to be honest with you. Those songs are unbelievable. Every time I sing one of Ronnie’s songs, it’s like driving a Porsche or a Maserati. You have to drive it well. I do with great honor.
On comparison with other Dio Disciples singers and being called the best of them by fans:
Oh, well that’s flattering! I don’t know man, there’s been some pretty good ones. Tim Ripper, of course, then Mark Boalz, and Toby Jepson was involved for a little bit. So I’m flattered to hear that. I have a nice time doing it for Ronnie, one of the best vocalists that ever stepped on this planet and opened up his mouth singing that beautiful neo-classical rock music, you can’t compare anything to that. So I’m very honored.
On the hardest Dio songs to sing:
They’re all sort of hard. Within a song you’ll find a line in there that’ll make you go, ‘Damn! How the hell did he do that every night?’ So I don’t veer away from the original way he did those songs and I just try to do my best, sticking to the great melodies that he had written, and the lyrics.
Check out photos from the red carpet below (view them here if you’re on a non-Flash device):
All photos by Brad Worsham, except for photo #10 (of Pooja Batra) by Andrew Bansal
Attendees trickled into the concert hall to get ready for the start of the event. The ‘This Is Your Life’ album was played on the PA in its entirety before the start and during intermissions, to give everyone a preview of what the album sounds like, two weeks before its official release on April 1st via Rhino Records in physical and digital formats. Proceeds from album sales are also going to the Stand Up And Shout Cancer Fund.
‘This Is Your Life’ Track Listing:
01. Neon Knights – Anthrax
02. The Last In Line – Tenacious D
03. The Mob Rules – Adrenaline Mob
04. Rainbow In The Dark – Corey Taylor, Roy Mayorga, Satchel, Christian Martucci, Jason Christopher
05. Straight Through The Heart – Halestorm
06. Starstruck – Motörhead with Biff Byford
07. The Temple Of The King – Scorpions
08. Egypt (The Chains Are On) – Doro
09. Holy Diver – Killswitch Engage
10. Catch The Rainbow – Glenn Hughes, Simon Wright, Craig Goldy, Rudy Sarzo, Scott Warren
11. I – Oni Logan, Jimmy Bain, Rowan Robertson, Brian Tichy
12. Man On The Silver Mountain – Rob Halford, Vinny Appice, Doug Aldrich, Jeff Pilson, Scott Warren
13. Ronnie Rising Medley (Featuring A Light In The Black, Tarot Woman, Stargazer, Kill The King)” – Metallica
14. This Is Your Life – Dio
Digital Bonus Track: Buried Alive – Jasta
To start off proceedings on stage, Dr. Sandeep Kapoor made a welcome speech and spoke about the cancer research being done by the organization he co-founded in honor of Ronnie James Dio. This was followed by a live auction conducted by Dean Schachtel from Niji Entertainment, and holiday trips to South Africa, tickets to the ‘Monsters Of Rock’ cruise, Blu-Ray package courtesy of Eagle Rock, an Ibanez guitar signed by all musicians part of this event, and an ESP James Hetfield model guitar decorated with the ‘This If Your Life’ cover artwork were the items auctioned to raise money for the Fund.
Following the live auction was the awards presentation intertwined with live musical performances, wherein an award was given and then the stage was cleared for one song, and this pattern continued for the rest of the evening. This part of the show was MC’d by Danny Zelisko from Nederlander Concerts.
Award Winners List:
Stand Up And Shout Award – Kevin Gore (President & CEO, Rhino Entertainment)
King Of Rock And Roll Award – Tim Carhart (Artist Relations Manager, ESP Guitars)
Rainbow In The Dark Award – Larry Morand (Producer, Monsters Of Rock Cruise)
Master Of The Moon Award – Greg Fidelman (Producer)
Man On THe Silver Mountain Award – Rob Halford
Long Live Rock ‘N Roll Award – Jay Ruston, Gene Kirkland, Stephanie Taylor, Mark Sasso
The live music segment consisted of only six songs, but each of them was extremely well performed by the musicians that took part, paying fitting tribute to Ronnie James Dio’s music. Tim Ripper Owens and Oni Logan put on delightful performances, with Logan laying down the vocals for ‘I’, and both of them singing together on ‘Stargazer’, emanating great power through their voices. Halestorm’s cover of ‘Straight Through The Heart’ impressed me when I heard it at the Wiltern in their headline show last year, and on this Dio-centric occasion they handled the pressure excellently and did an even better job with the cover. And then of course came a man who usually turns up at these kind of events, Corey Taylor, giving it his all in singing ‘Rainbow In The Dark’ and ‘Neon Knights’. It was clear as to how much pure enjoyment he was getting out of singing these songs and his efforts seemed genuinely heartfelt, to the extent that even the most stubborn haters of his original bands can find appreciation for what he does with these covers. And in the end they all came together for an all-star ‘Stand Up And Shout’ jam, where it must be said that Tim Ripper Owens easily outshone Lzzy Hale and Corey Taylor with his incredible voice, once again reaffirming my opinion that he’s the most underrated singer in metal.
01. I – Oni Logan, Rowan Robertson, Mike Orlando, Jimmy Bain & Brian Tichy
02. Straight Through The Heart – Halestorm
03. Stargazer – Tim Ripper Owens, Oni Logan, Craig Goldy, Mike Orlando, Bjorn Englen, Simon Wright, Scott Warren
04. Rainbow In The Dark – Corey Taylor, Christian Martucci, Scott Ian, Jason Christopher, Roy Mayorga
05. Neon Knights – Corey Taylor, Christian Martucci, Scott Ian, Duff McKagan, Roy Mayorga
06. Stand Up And Shout – All Star Jam
During the rendition of ‘Rainbow In The Dark’, Wendy Dio seemed completely moved by the performance and was seen singing along. It was a truly heartwarming moment. At the end of the song she came up on stage for a short speech and gave away the Long Live Rock ‘N Roll Award to the four winners listed above. Everyone presented with an award at this event got to make a speech about their affiliation with Dio and the cause, but with the exception of Rob Halford who delivered quite a fantastically precise statement that drew tremendous cheer from his fans in the audience, all others took too long with their speeches and none of them were able to capture the audience’s attention, which was perhaps one of the very few negatives I could point out about this event as a whole. Besides, the raffle giveaway was a total bust and the MC didn’t even seem to take it seriously despite the fact that the cost of the raffle tickets ranged from $10 to $100 for those who bought them.
Perhaps the live music part of the event could have been longer instead and it would have been great if it consisted of more than just the six songs, specially more of Tim Ripper Owens at the helm. But overall, in all honesty the 3rd annual Ronnie James Dio gala could be deemed a successful event that achieved everything it aimed to, and the rock ‘n roll faithful in Los Angeles would hope for future editions that are just as good if not better, for many years to come.