Posts Tagged ‘Ronnie James Dio’


‘Sometime in the night when you’re feeling the cold etc’ great days great rock n roll.

The Japanese word ‘natsukashii’ essentially means ‘nostalgic’ – eg something you remember fondly..and readers – the song ‘Stars’ by Hear n Aid sends me back in time with a big wide grin – as I crank the volume and play my invisible BC Rich. Just over 25 years back, the world was putting their hands in their pockets – digging deep to help feed the starving folks in Africa…..the mainstream music world all joined hands to help the cause…USA for Africa and Band Aid were the two notables….yet there was nothing about those two recordings to hold my interest back then. Seemingly ignored, the hard rock and metal fraternity – essentially under the leadership of Ronnie James Dio, gathered in L.A under the name Hear n Aid and recorded the tune ‘Stars’. What a song. Make no mistake, this is undiluted – hard rock of the highest caliber. If you are 20 years old and reading this – you’d have no idea what I am raving on about – bless your dumb ass. Read and learn…it’s why we do this blog. I can remember reading about this recording in 1986 in the local Sydney street press and being as keen as hell to hear it. It was essentially a who’s who of the hard rock and metal world (from that era) – all gathered in the one location to do their bit for famine relief. What they came away with, was a bonafide heavy metal classic. It was written by the sorely missed Dio, Viv Campbell (who let’s face it – has been a side-man in Whitesnake and Leppard since leaving Dio not long after this single) and Jimmy Bain who were all hitting a creative peak – though Ronnie seemed to be on a peak for most of his career, penning memorable tunes with effortless ease. I walked into a record store in suburban Sydney – after punching out from my mundane factory job and began scouring the racks. I quickly found the 7″ single and I recall the ever-helpful store owner saying to me “the 12″ version has all the guitar solo’s on it” and then played it over the store’s speakers nice and loud (anyone remember when record store owners actually dug music ? Go find someone in your large K-Mart styled music super stores in 2012 like that guy!)…and it blew me away.

Looking back, this song possibly defines who I was as a heavy metal kid of the early-mid 1980’s – and to this day, I believe it was only released on vinyl and cassette. Fine by me. The tune has a heavy – infectious riff which hammers away until song’s end and a memorable chorus. I am fortunate to say that I saw Dio encore with this in Sydney in September of 86. All vocalists on this tune do a fine job – but it’s Dave Meniketti and Geoff Tate who were my stand-outs.Thankfully Ronnie did not let Vince Neil near the mike – his scalded cat-like vocals were not required on this offering. The blazing guitar solo’s are all lightning quick and were laid down by some of rock and metal’s hardest hitters like Neil Schon, George Lynch, Buck Dharma and Craig Goldy. Former Ozzy and Night Ranger axe man Brad Gillis’ whammy bar antics had me spellbound back then, and the signature Yngwie sound stands out from the rest. Maiden’s Smithy and Murray broke away from the World Slavery tour to lend their talents as well. The tune is an anthem. It is as catch as all hell. It also represents an era in loud rock n roll which no longer exists. Guns n Roses were still playing to no one at the nearby Troubador. Metallica were still underground, long-haired lager louts and pushing their Ride Tthe Lightning album. Bon Jovi meanwhile were busy recording Slippery When Wet. These three bands would – in three or four short years – be the new rock heavyweights.

Yet in the mid-80’s my friends, this record had heavy rotation on the Rockbrat stereo – a time when metal was still underground – when we really all were ‘stars’.


Mr. Rockbrat and I were massive fans of Ronnie James Dio – from the time we were 15 years of age. We were fortunate enough to see him on several occasions, and like others, we recognise that the voice of metal is gone.  I have heard a few tributes to him – but none of them come close to Mike Tramp’s heart felt tribute song called ‘Hymn To Ronnie’. The ex White Lion front man has done an amazing job with this song, and I don’t mind saying that as one who grew up listnening to Dio, I find this song quite emotional – though after reading some reviews, I’m not alone. Rockbrat and I saw Mike Tramp’s band Freaks Of Nature support Dio at the Hammy Odeon back in 93. Of the song, Mike Trampo said ” The song always needed to stand by it self and I never felt that I could include it in any form of commercial album”. This song belongs to all of Ronnie’s fans, it’s not just a tribute, its a Hymn, something much higher to fit the man with the true voice of rock’n’roll.” The song clocks in at almost 8 minutes long, and takes you through a magical journey of RJD’s life, and as I said, it has quite an impact. Keyboards were laid down by original RAINBOW keyboardist Tony Carey. You can download Mike Tramp & the Rock’n’Roll Circuz – Hymn To Ronnie from Eddie Trunk’s site here

Campbell and Dio tear it up

Make no mistake kids – back in 83/84 Belfast boy Vivian Campbell was a genuine, bonafide guitar shredding rock star ! Countless hours were spent in the mid-80’s watching Dio’s ‘Special From The Spectrum’ live VHS cassette, and I STILL get a thrill when I view it. The band are on fire and kick major ass. But the one thing which hits you immediately is just how cool guitarist Viv Campbell both looked and played. Man he could play. His solo on this tour is one of my favourite ever guitar solo’s. If you went to the bar during  it, well shame on you. After he was fired from Dio, Campbell stated something in the press like ‘I got tired of the rubber dragons” (stage props) and some years down the track would reportedly spray other unkind comments about the great Ronnie.  Like ot or not Viv, RJD made you a star ! Dio himself would also make a similar comment to this effect and observed that Vivian was playing ‘second banana’…ie behind other guitarists. Sure he wound up in the MTV version of Whitesnake – playing Sykes riffs down pat – but as Ronnie had aso accurately alluded to, remained in fellow guiatrist Adrian Vandenberg’s shadow. When he joined Def Leppard it seemed a good match. Though Steve Clarke’s shoes can never be filled. If you think Eddie Van Halen and Malmsteen were the kings of 80’s rock guitarists – think again. Go view this Dio 1984 live DVD and you’ll see just how cool Vivian Campbell really was – his sound was so unique, solo’s innovative and he actually added something vital and new to the Sabbath and Rainbow tunes. What a truly great live band that version of Dio were – maybe the best ever backing band Ronnie ever had ?

Phil and Lemmy showing the kids how it’s done !

Who: Motorhead
When: Liquid Room, Shinjuku, Tokyo 10 October 2000

Does Rock n Roll in the live environment get any purer than Motorhead ? They have long been a Rockbrat favourite and any clueless kid looking to discover cool rock n roll could do worse than to start with Lemmy and the boys.  Nearly ten years ago I saw them on their Japan tour at the Liquid Room, located in the hearts of Tokyo’s Shinjuku district. Cool venue, but the words ‘fire’ and ‘trap’ have appeared in my mind when I’ve been there. Rules and regulations go hand in hand in Japan, so I can only presume that the fire safety checks are up to date, but after the Great White tragedy of a few years back, I often wonder. Anyway – it was a steamy October evening when I made my way into a very packed venue. Motorhead were touring in support of the “We Are Motoread’ album and kicked off the set with the album title-track. A crunching take of ‘Bomber’ is next, followed by ‘No Class’. The Rockbrat was loving it ! A cover of the Pistols’ God Save The Queen is well received, as is the cutting Sacrifice. I can do without drum solos

(especially in a club), but Mikkey Dee’s was at least loud ! Iron Fist, Killed By Death, Ace Of Spades end the evening and my ears and brain are ringing as I negotiate the Tokyo Train network. With the passing of Ronnie James Dio this year


the fact that one day, too – bands like Motorhead will no longer exist is a distinct reality. The world will be a lesser place for it – but it makes nights like the 10 October 2000 one to look back on and remember.


What: Dio – 1986 Australian Tour tee-shirt

Wanna know what the greatest world event was back in 1986 ? Politics ?Argentina winning the World Cup ? Nah – in the Rockbrat world at least – it was Dio touring Australia that September !!! To see the great Ronnie James Dio live playing songs like ‘Heaven and Hell’, ‘Mob Rules’, ‘Man On The Silver Mountain’….it really does not get any better than that. Here is the tour shirt the Rockbrat purchased that evening..RIP the great Ronnie James Dio.

Ronnie James Dio recently passed away. Although he can no longer record new music, the recordings he has left us will forever be a reminder of his great talent. His voice was – and forever will be one of the most distinguishable in the world of rock n roll. I saw him in September of 1986 on Dio’s Australian Tour and boy what a show. You gotta remember, hard rock/metal bands hardly ever toured Australia back then – unlike nowadays. After Kiss in 1980 there was who ? AC/DC in 1981; Iron Maiden in 1982 and 1985; Twisted Sister also in 1985; Motorhead as well. I had nearly worn out my Dio ‘Special From The Spectrum’ video tape and knew that show backwards. Local outfits Boss and White Widow opened the show, and although I can’t remember much about either act that night – I do know that Boss had pretty much ran their race in terms of whatever success they might have. They would however resurface a couple of years down the track with the Def Leppard sounding outfit BB Steal. For this tour Dio had released a mini live EP called ‘Intermission’ and I think I nearly wore the grooves out of that thing as well ! Former Giuffria/Rough Cutt guitarist Craig Goldy had replaced Vivian Campbell in the line-up but that was fine with me. I was just content to see Dio live. I remember they were very loud and I think I spent the whole show grinning in appreciation. Down the track I would also see Dio at the Hammy Odeon in London in 1993 – and also the Heaven and Hell re-union. However time will never diminish the buzz and excitement of Dio back in 86. I hope teenagers of today and in future generations will discover the stunning anthems he wrote with Rainbow, Sabbath and Dio.