Rare is the tribute album these days that inspires as much feral, teeth-gnashing anticipation as This Is Your Life, the new compilation of Dio covers benefitting the Ronnie James Dio Stand Up And Shout Cancer Fund. Considering the artists appearing on the album–a roster of living legends that includes Metallica, Motorhead, Scorpions, Anthrax, Rob Halford and Corey Taylor, the groundswell of enthusiasm makes complete sense.
Tonight we arrive at the Avalon club in Hollywood for a once-in-a-lifetime event—the 3rd Annual Dio Cancer Fund Awards Gala, which this year is coupled with a pre-release listening party of the new album, including live performances by a number of the contributing artists, as well as some closely-guarded “special guests” rumoured to be appearing. Here’s the blow-by-blow account of how this incredible evening went down…[ALL PHOTO CREDITS: JOE DALY]
6:25 a.m. The people of Los Angeles are literally shaken from their slumber by the unholy bellowing of an earthquake five miles beneath the city. Carrying on for 12 pant-shitting seconds, the quake notches 4.4 on the Richter scale, and while no measurable damage ensues, it ranks as one of the biggest in the past two decades. Coincidence? We think not.
5:30pm Although today is St. Patrick’s Day, the merciless heat and the blistering sun beating across our shoulders reminds us that we’re a long way from Dublin. That said, as a slithering army of boozed-up pedestrians in green t-shirts stumble over non-existent obstacles in the sidewalk, it is plain that an air of celebration is well underway.
5:45 The queue at the Avalon has formed, with a gaggle of itchy punters setting their sights on some of the prime real estate in the balcony. All but one have Dio shirts. The other guy is repping Rainbow. Fair enough.
6:00 The red carpet begins against a backdrop of the album cover designed by Marc Sasso, featuring the army of metal legends who have contributed to the album, which is streaming in rotation throughout the PA. We can’t wait to hear some of these tracks live.
6:30 And here come the metal legends! Corey Taylor and Scott Ian are among the iconic figures seen strolling down the red carpet – with Corey in particular pulling an awesome Blue Steel.
7:00 Halestorm make their way across the red carpet. As Lzzy is pulled and pawed at by a callous gaggle of LA news teams, the rest of the lads joke around with the photographers about earthquakes seemingly hitting the city each time they arrive. Bassist Josh Smith tells Metal Hammer that they’re heading into the studio this summer to work on their next album, in addition to a steady diet of live dates throughout the year.
7:30 A tireless advocate for cancer research, metal legend Lita Ford looks positively stunning–and ageless– this evening, briefly canoodling with Jack Russell before entering the main room. “Dio is the originator of the heavy metal horns,” she tells Metal Hammer. “Dio is absolutely one of the vocal greats. Anybody who thinks what he did was easy should try to sing Heaven and Hell. And he was such a kind and gentle soul! Always happy, and always upbeat.”
7:40 Inside we peruse the lobby, where a massive silent auction stretches across the room. Extravagant merch packages from bands like Metallica, Stone Sour and Anthrax sit side by side with teddy bears, cases of wine and hand-carved rosewood Madonnas. Just when we think we’ve seen everything, we notice a beat up pair of white leather trainers sitting at the end of a table. It takes a moment to realize that these well-worn kicks are in fact, an auction item. Turns out that Brian May literally pulled the shoes off of his feat, signed them and sent them over for the auction. While these will raise a nice chunk of change for the cause, we must say that it really was time for a new pair of shoes for Mr. May.
8:00 Dr. Sandy Kapoor, co-founder of the Stand Up and Shout Cancer Fund, along with Wendy Dio, delivers the opening remarks to a packed theater. He describes the sad resignation of having to deliver a cancer diagnosis to Ronnie and how together with Wendy they saw Ronnie through his disease, leveraging his struggle into a comprehensive cancer research foundation. Describing the many programs funded by donations, it is clear to all that Dio’s legacy now extends well beyond his body of music.
8:15 The live auction kicks off with a 9 day trip to South Africa, which is ultimately won by Slayer manager Rick Sales. More trips and guitars are auctioned off, including an ESP Explorer-style guitar with a custom paint job matching the tribute album cover, which goes for the eye-watering price of $6,000. Clearly the winner is not a rock journalist.
8:25 A security guard stops a man from trying to get to the backstage lounge. The problem is that unbeknownst to said guard, the man trying to get backstage is metal god Rob Halford! As several people hasten to bring the security guard up to speed, Rob, ever the gentleman, extends a handshake and a smile to the sheepish guard, saying, “Dude, you’re only doing your job. No problem.” All good vibes in the house tonight.
8:30 The first award of the evening goes out to Kevin Gore, President and CEO of Rhino Entertainment, who receives the first award in absentia (he is rumoured by the presenter to be attending a Barry Manilow concert), and then it’s time for the first performance of the night. We are seething with anticipation.
8:35 Oni Logan, Rowan Robertson, Mike Orlando, Jimmy bain and Brian Tichy kick things off with a storming version of I, carried by Logan’s brawny range and the kaleidescopic fretboard showmanship of Mike Orlando.
8:50 Tim Carhart, Artist Relations Manager for ESP Guitars accepts the next award—the King of Rock and Roll Award—cheekily proclaiming himself a “big, bad survivor of the St. Patrick’s Day Earthquake.”
8:55 Duff McKagan, an unannounced special performer, his wife Susan Holmes McKagan and Rob Halford chat by the side of the stage, taking selfies with their iPhones, as Susan throws shapes between the two legends.
9:00 There is simply nobody here tonight who could possibly be enjoying themselves as much as Tim “Ripper” Owens. Easily one of the most popular performers in the backstage area, Ripper is smiling, bobbing and waiting for his cue, which arrives shortly after 9 p.m. when he takes the stage, essentially with the Dio Disciples– Craig Goldy, Simon Wright, Scott Warren, Bjorn Englen, Mike Orlando and Oni Logan. As they launch into Stargazer, the Avalon crowd lose their minds, Ripper hitting notes high and long enough to reach space stations. Even Rob Halford stands up to take note.
9:10 During another impromptu live auction break, one of the emcees declares that the next item will be Motley Crue merchandise. After a silent pause, he clarifies, “By the way, Judas Priest kills Motley Crue.” Thunderous applause underscores the crowd’s opinion of his comment.
9:15 Corey Taylor leads Christian Martucci, Scott Ian, Jason Christopher and Roy Mayorga out for the next number, and after a bit of warm-up patter, they tear into Rainbow In The Dark, without the slightest whiff of restraint. While Corey’s vocal style tends to be a bit more coarse than Dio’s, he hits every towering note on Rainbow with pure swagger, while Scott detonates bruising waves of riffage through the PA, causing us to wonder how the tectonic plates beneath the city are holding up.
9:25 The Man on the Silver Mountain Award is presented to Rob Halford, who pulls out a neatly printed booklet containing his speech, clarifying that the event was simply too important to risk forgetting anyone. Rob offers a brief set of humble remarks that pay homage to both Dio and the efforts of the foundation bearing his name. He ends with a tribute to “my friend, Ronnie James Dio,” simply saying, “I love you, I love you, I love you.”
9:35 Before the next song, the emcee takes Rob’s printed speech, holds it up over his head and offers to auction it off on the spot, starting with $1,000 of his own money. 2 minutes and $3,000 later, one of the more active bidders takes home one of the more unique souvenirs of the evening.
9:45 Duff McKagan joins Corey, Scott, Roy and Christian for a roaring take on Neon Knights as the rest of the musicians fill the sides of the stage to pump fists and throw shapes.
10:00 Wendy Dio takes the stage to a hail of applause and presents four impromptu awards to people who have contributed to the foundation with time and services, including producer Jay Ruston, photographer Gene Kirkland and Stephanie Taylor, wife of Corey. She thanks the crowd for their generosity and support before turning the stage over for one last jam.
10:05 The full ensemble of tonight’s performers come out for the final number, Stand Up And Shout, with Ripper trading vocals with Corey, Oni and Lzzy, while the rest of the artists careen about like pinballs, shredding, thumping and bellowing to the rafters. When the song ends, nobody wants to leave the stage. In fact, it seems that nobody is sure how to properly bring the event to a close. Then it begins—the chant rises from the stage and carries through the crowd, across the floor and up into the balconies. “Dio! Dio! Dio!” Ah yes, now that’s the perfect ending.
Ronnie James Dio: This Is Your Life lands on April 1 via Rhino.
from Metal Hammer http://www.metalhammer.co.uk/features/blogs-of-war-heres-what-went-down-at-the-third-annual-ronnie-james-dio-awards-gala/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=blogs-of-war-heres-what-went-down-at-the-third-annual-ronnie-james-dio-awards-gala