For the past two and a half years, Wendy Dio, the widow of heavy-metal icon Ronnie James Dio (Dio, Heaven and Hell, ex-Black Sabbath) has worked with a who's who of loud-rock luminaries to put together a tribute album featuring music from her husband, who died of stomach cancer in May 2010.
The album, "Ronnie James Dio This is Your Life," will come out April 1 and includes storming versions of 14 Dio, Black Sabbath, and Rainbow numbers performed by Metallica, Anthrax, Tenacious D, Motörhead, Halestorm, Judas Priest vocalist Rob Halford, Slipknot, and Stone Sour front man Corey Taylor, and others.
"When I started talking about the album, I asked Glenn Hughes, who was a very good friend of Ronnie's, if he would be involved,” Wendy Dio told Yahoo Music. "He recorded the first track ['Catch the Rainbow']. From there, people contacted me. Last year at the Revolver Golden Gods I bumped into Jack Black and he said, 'Are you still doing the tribute record?' I said, 'yes,' and he said he definitely wanted to be on it."
Black and Kyle Gass of Tenacious D perform a dramatic version of Dio’s “The Last in Line,” substituting twittering recorders for a guitar lead. Another highlight is Metallica’s nine-minute-long medley of four Rainbow songs. "They recorded that with [producer] Greg Fidelman three months ago," Dio said. "They were so eager to be on the album, and with 'Kill the King,' I think they brought a great ‘70s song into the now. They put the Metallica stamp on it without changing it. You can hear a mosh pit, almost.”
"We reached out to Wendy Dio about wanting to be a part of the Dio tribute," Metallica singer James Hetfield told U.K.'s Metal Hammer magazine. "We're very honored to be a part of it."
That almost all of the performers on Ronnie James Dio This is Your Life were close friends or devoted fans gives the album a poignancy many tribute records lack. "The dude was so genuine and everything you'd want one of your heroes to be when you meet him," Corey Taylor told Yahoo Music. "He was down to earth, but he knew he was Ronnie James Dio; he was the s***."
For the tribute album, Taylor performed Dio's "Rainbow in the Dark," backed by Steel Panther guitarist Satchel, and Stone Sour drummer Roy Mayorga, guitarist Christian Martucci and bassist Jason Christopher. "I saw the video on MTV as a kid," Taylor recalled. "That’s the first time I heard the song and right away I knew there was something about it and that it was awesome. I was a fan from that moment on."
Taylor, Halestorm, ex-Dio bassist Jimmy Bain and other artists on the album will perform at a pre-release listening party on March 17 in Hollywood. Eight Awards will be presented to honorees at the event including: Halford ("He and Ronnie were both very much in admiration of each other’s voices," Dio said), Fidelman, ESP guitars and others.
Proceeds from the album and event will go to the Ronnie James Dio Stand up and Shout cancer fund co-founded by Wendy Dio.