Ronnie James Dio Interview

Ronnie James Dio is no stranger to Central New York. Raised in nearby Cortland, N.Y. Ronnie was lead singer for "Elf," a band that enjoyed considerable success in the U.S. as well as Europe.

Ronnie then joined forces with guitarist Ritchie Blackmore to form "Blackmore's Rainbow." After that stint, he went on to "Black Sabbath."

Today Ronnie James Dio is on his own. He's released a new album "Holy Diver" (Warner Bros. Records) and is touring the world in support of that album.

We spoke with a local boy who made good, a guy who helped place Central New York on the music map - Mr. Ronnie James Dio.

Q. Ronnie, the last time I saw you, you were performing with "Elf" here in Syracuse at a club called the Brookside. Do you remember that club and those days?
A. Oh, very well, yeah. I remember the place very well. I remember the dressing room was behind the stage, all that kind of thing.

Q. Bruce Dickinson, lead singer for Iron Maiden, does a pretty good Ronnie James Dio.
A. Well, I think I'm Bruce's idol as a matter of fact.

Q. Is there anything a front man can do to distinguish himself from the next guy?
A. It's how you approach it. Everyone can do the same thing. Everyone can twirl a mike, maybe some better than others, some not as good as others. It's the attitude you have to project. There are some singers who can twirl a mike very well but don't have the proper rapport with an audience. And that is the most important thing a front man can do, I think.

Q. Does it ever bother you that so many people really have no understanding of what a good singer or musician is?
A. It doesn't bother me much. Actually, I couldn't care less. They're the audience; they've got a right to what they want to listen to.

Q. You wanted to take your music around the world in support of the album, have you been able to do that?
A. We've made a pretty good start of it as a matter of fact. We did a tour with Aerosmith on the West Coast. Following the tour we flew over to England and did the Castle Donnington, Monsters of Rock Festival. There were 75,000 people and six other acts - Whitesnake, Z.Z. Top, Meatloaf, Twisted Sister, ourselves, and Diamond Head. It'll probably be a long tour, but a tour that will take us to places I want to go to, places that Sabbath either refused to go to or didn't care about, going to. The next two years are going to be a long touring session for both me and the band.

Q. Over the years, we've seen a number of Central New Yorkers who've enjoyed some kind of recording success, Rich Cua, Duane Hitchings, Mark Doyle, The Rods, Dave Porter ("805"). You've probably had the highest visibility level of all these people. What did you do that they didn't, or what didn't you do, that they did?
A. Well, for a start I'm better than they are. You've got to have a lot of talent, and I've got a lot more than all of them as it happens. That may sound like a big ego trip, but it's not. It's just the truth. The people that you've mentioned "805" --they've been around forever. I remember Dave Porter when he lived in Cortland and was trying to get it all together. Perhaps, they haven't been in the mainstream long enough. I don't know what kind of music they're doing. I'm not saying these people aren't good at what they do; I'm just saying you have to be a lot better than good at what you do. In this competitive world, you have to be excellent at what you do, and I like to consider myself excellent at what I do.

Q. You call L.A. your home these days, would you ever move back to Syracuse or Cortland?
A. For me, I wouldn't go back there. As Thomas Wolfe once said, "You can never go home." And, you can't do it. I lived my life there. I enjoyed my growing up in Cortland, Syracuse and in Central New York. It was wonderful. It was a great moral upbringing for me and I enjoyed the people very much, but I don't want to live in Central New York anymore. That's not a bad reflection on Central New York, I just don't want to. I've lived there long enough. I'm a very gregarious person anyway, very nomadic. I just like to go to different places. In about four or five months, I'll probably move to England and live there for a couple of years. I'll just come through as a visitor, and see my folks, and visit Syracuse just to stop at the radio station or play a gig.

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