Satellite and terrestrial metal radio host Eddie Trunk is returning to MC the third annual Ride for Ronnie Motorcycle Ride & Concert that will take place May 7. The fundraising event -- which includes a motorcycle run from Harley-Davidson of Glendale in Glendale, Calif., to Los Encinos State Historic Park in nearby Encinos; a multi-act concert featuring such artists as Lynch Mob, Dio Disciples, Rough Cutt and Eddie Money; and a silent and live auction of rock memorabilia -- will benefit the Ronnie James Dio Stand Up & Shout Cancer Fund that was founded in memory of the legendary metal vocalist who died of gastric cancer in May 2010. According to its website, the nonprofit has raised more than $1 million to support the cancer research work of the T.J. Martell Foundation and the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston.
Trunk's involvement with Stand Up & Shout dates back to when he hosted the memorial service that was held for Dio at the Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Hollywood Hills in June 2010, as well as the five-year memorial gathering that was held there in 2015. Dio's wife/manager, Wendy Dio, asked Trunk to host the events since he was a longtime friend of her husband, who charted 20 albums on the Billboard 200 as a solo artist and as the frontman for Rainbow, Black Sabbath and Heaven and Hell.
"A lot of people in Dio's camp said many, many times to me how fond Ronnie was of me, and although we were friends and I interviewed him many times and hung out with him and loved him, I never really knew that he had that strong of a feeling about me," says Trunk. "Wendy said that he did, and [that] they would often put press in front of him and he would always gripe except for me, because he would always be excited to see me and loved talking to me. That meant a lot to me."
At first, Trunk thought that when Wendy extended the invite to attend the first service in 2010 that she merely wanted him to say a few words to the congregation. He didn't realize until she began to explain her plans for the event that she meant for him to host the whole ceremony. "I remember being like completely petrified, because even though that's what I do and I'm very comfortable doing that sort of thing, this was Ronnie. This was a funeral. This was a public memorial. This was a whole different thing," he says.
But he wasn't going to let a case of nerves interfere with honoring a man he had long admired, and he gave it his best shot.
"Everybody that was there that day walked away saying it was one of the best jobs I'd done with anything in my life, so it meant a lot to me that [that was] well received, and I was really glad that I was able to come through for everyone that was there for such an important day and for Ronnie."
Since then, Trunk has hosted such activities as the inaugural Ride for Ronnie in 2015 (a scheduling conflict prevented him from MC'ing the second installment) and the Bowl 4 Ronnie Bowling Party, a bowling tournament that pegs teams of metal celebrities against one another. He makes hosting the events a priority whenever Wendy requests his services -- and he does it for free. "It's a great cause and a great fund. Wendy and her team work real hard on making these things happen," says Trunk. "I can bring something to it as a host and as a name and also as a promotional platform, because I will talk about this stuff on my various outlets and help drive some people there."
Emphasizing that Wendy and her crew do the heavy lifting in organizing the fundraisers, Trunk also helps secure rock memorabilia for auctions and talent for appearances and performances. "The one thing I have that I can really bring is relationships with a lot of these artists that I can call 'em up and try to get them out there," he says. Trunk cites as an example the first Bowling 4 Ronnie gathering. Wendy had originally paired him with a team, but he said he could assemble his own with some bold-faced names. "I said, 'I'm going to call Tom Morello and I'm going to call Steven Adler and I'm going to call John 5.' She's like, 'Oh, my God, you can do that?,' and I said, 'Yeah!' … For her, that alleviates going through a bunch of red tape and phone calls. I can just get right to the point."
For Trunk, one primary reason it's important for him to involved with the fund is because he loved Dio. "I loved him as a fan long before I knew him personally -- loved his voice, loved his music," explains Trunk. "When I finally got into the business and got to know him personally, as much as I was a fan of him as a musician before I knew him, I became even more of a fan when I got to know him as a person, because he was just a wonderful man. He was one of my favorite people to interview. We had a lot of fun together. We went to England a couple times together. He was on all of my shows so many times, TV and radio, and he was just one of those really genuine people."
Trunk recalls that when he met one of Dio's doctors, Sandeep Kapoor, M.D. (who is co-founder and medical director of the fund), at the 2010 memorial, he asked Kapoor what in the wake of Dio's death could be done to help fight cancer. Kapoor told him that Dio "never went to doctors," because he figured that if anything was bothering him, it would just go away. "He said, 'If you can find a way through your outlets and your platforms to let people know how important it is to be screened, that would be a big help,'" recalls Trunk, who says his own father survived colon cancer thanks to early detection, and Trunk now gets regular screenings himself. "I do that on a regular basis. I talk to people about it on my radio shows. I did it on [his former VH1 talk show] That Metal Show on TV. When I do appearances on stages, I will bring it up and talk about it just to tell people, 'Hey, we're all getting older, and it's important to keep up with your health,' So if that's one small thing that I can do to help get the word out in Ronnie's name, it's really nothing."
"I'm really honored to be a part of this, and I'm really honored to help when I can," he concludes. "It does so many things. It helps people who need help who are struggling with cancer. It helps grow this fund. It helps grow awareness for Ronnie and keeps his memory alive. I'm just happy to be a part of it and help whenever I can when I'm called on."
For more information about the Ride for Ronnie Motorcycle Rally & Concert, go here.