My first encounter with Ronnie James Dio was in the spring of 1987. He and the rest of the band Dio – bassist Jimmy Bain, drummer Vinny Appice, keyboard player Claude Schnell and recent addition, guitarist Craig Goldy – were closeted away at Sound City Studios in the city’s valley, laying down ideas for the album that would become Dream Evil.
This was my first visit to LA and I was in awe of both the city and my interview subject. That Ronnie and company would welcome a writer and photographer into their world at such at early stage in the album’s development was unusual, but they couldn’t have been more cordial.
During the afternoon we spent with Ronnie, David Coverdale dropped by and snuck off into a quiet corner for a discreet word. He sought a lowdown on Craig Goldy’s predecessor, Vivian Campbell, with a view to allowing him to join Whitesnake. Whatever Ronnie said must have been complimentary, as Viv got the job – kinda ironic when one considers the way things turned out between the two men.
Dio (the band) ran through their four semi-finished tracks before gathering around Appice’s kit for an impromptu photo session.
Ronnie was, of course, supremely confident in his own ability. When asked whether he would once again act as Dio’s producer, he replied: “Yes. I get the best out of me. I’m the only one who does that because I don’t like being told what to do. I am the singer and unless we get another singer in this band, I’m gonna have to do it my way.”
Having been bossed around in Rainbow, Dio tried to treat his colleagues fairly. “I expect big things from people in this band,” he told me. “With Jimmy [Bain - bass], Vinny [Appice, drums] and Claude, I demand the moon and they give me more than that – they give me the sun. So when Craig comes in I can’t treat him like a baby. I’m too harsh on people, but he can take it.”
There would be many future encounters, but that studio visit will always be a treasured memory. Our chat took place on the facility’s roof, and as I moved to switch on the tape recorder Ronnie had said, “Wait a moment,” returning with a tour jacket borrowed from a roadie. “It can get chilly as the sun goes down – you don’t want to catch a cold,” he explained.
A tiny gesture, but one that spoke volumes of the man I knew.
THE DIO GUITARISTS
In all, there were five guitarists involved with Dio. They were:
Jake E. Lee - 1982
Vivian Campbell - 1982-1986
Craig Goldy - 1986-1989. 199-2001. 2004-2005, 2006-20010
Rowan Robertson - 1989-2001
Tracy G. - 1993-1999