His longtime manager and wife Wendy Dio notes in the book that her husband had been working on the memoir before his cancer diagnosis. As far as he was concerned, she says, it “would have no end” like other similar books, because his “future was still full of promise.”
Once diagnosed, Dio managed to write his own story into the Rainbow years. According to Wendy, as his pace of progress slowed due to illness, he worked with her to map out the rest of the book, “writing notes and planning how the rest of the book would go,” leaving behind a timeline of his activity.
A decade later, Wendy was able to complete the project with help from writer Mick Wall, a longtime associate who had also done public-relations work for the singer. They worked from a variety of sources, including a massive archive of old interviews that Dio’s mother had saved, to tell Ronnie’s story in his own words.
We get a lot of information on Ronnie’s early bands. Elf is pretty well-known to fans, as are Ronnie Dio and the Prophets. But it’s interesting to read more about the evolution of what becomes Elf and all of the bands that came before that.
I think that’s what Ronnie wanted to put across. He wanted the fans to know about things that they didn’t know about. Over his long career, so many details have been put out there. He wanted to put some stuff out that they didn’t know about him.
What was some of the most difficult stuff to document and sort out?
Mick Wall kept bugging me to bring the book out, and it just never was the right time until now. I wanted it to be written in Ronnie’s own words. I didn’t want it to be like a lot of things, just talking with other people. Luckily, Ronnie’s mother had kept a scrapbook of most of all the interviews he’d ever done. Mick and I went through those to still try and keep it in Ronnie’s own words. I would augment things when I remembered things that happened at that time as well.
The falling out with Vivian Campbell is long-standing and well-known. It seems like there was a definite chance to finally put that in black and white once and for all.
I wanted to, because I am so sick to death of hearing Vivian saying things like, “Ronnie paid me a hundred dollars a week.” Well, how did he buy a Ferrari with a hundred dollars a week? Ronnie was always fair to his people. It costs a lot of money to put that show on. All of the time, we paid for everything – buses, trucks, hotels, per diems, lighting, sound and everything else. I think he treated the band very fairly. The problem is Vivian, for some reason, decided he wanted to be Ronnie. Well, you know, the band was called Dio. But the fact was that Ronnie had already been in Rainbow and paid his dues and then in Black Sabbath and paid his dues. He wasn’t just off the street and a nobody. I got really upset. I get really upset when I hear him saying all of the things about Ronnie. Ronnie isn’t here to defend himself. I will. I have all of the paperwork to prove that. How much he did get paid. That just kind of upsets me that people will say, “Oh, Ronnie was cheap.” Well, Ronnie was never ever cheap at all.
Do you think there was ever would have been a chance to build any sort of bridge between Ronnie and Vivian?
No. I don’t think so, because there was too many nasty things by both of them said in the press, and I think you can’t undo those things.
The book wraps up after the Sacred Heart period. Are there plans for doing a book that would bring things up to the last parts of his career?
If there’s enough interest. For Ronnie, the book, if it ran the span of his whole life, it would be too much for one book, and you wouldn’t be able to go into such detail that he did on his younger days. It had to end there, because in the beginning of the book, Ronnie is talking about going onstage at Madison Square Garden. He goes back into time about how he actually got started and then ends it by saying, I’m going onstage now and that’s another story. So he did, in fact, intend to write another book. Whether it will come to fruition or not, I don’t know. He did intend to write another book about everything else that went on [like] the ‘90s, where we lost the record deal, and he had to start again and start playing in clubs instead of arenas and build his career back up again. The trials and tribulations of going back into Sabbath again with Dehumanizer, and then going back into his band and then going back again into Heaven & Hell at the end and everything else that happened. Him getting sick and so on. So there is a lot of material there. Whether or not it is of interest to a publisher or not, I don’t know. What I do want to do, which I really want to do, is a coffee-table book of Ronnie’s illustrated lyrics.
That would be cool.
We started working on that, Ronnie and I, years and years ago. We got some artists to bring in different things and different stuff. Then it just got put away because we were busy with other things. But that’s something I would really think the fans would like to see. There’s so many things you can conjure up. You know, like “Ride the tiger” and all of those different things that come up into the stories. I think it would be interesting.
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