July 10 marked what would have been metal legend Ronnie James Dio‘s 80th birthday. In celebration of his lasting legacy, Wendy Dio guested on Full Metal Jackie’s weekend radio program to discuss all the latest happenings, including a reissue/remaster of Holy Diver and more.
Reflecting on the album’s creation, Wendy revealed that Ronnie had written the songs “Holy Diver” and “Don’t Talk to Strangers” during his time in Black Sabbath and had intentions on using those songs with the group before a fallout led to his ouster and he formed the Dio band as a result.
Expanding beyond the view of the general heavy metal fanbase, the Dio name received a nice commercial bump in the hit Netflix TV series Stranger Things, where the character Eddie Munson is seen wearing a denim jacket with a Dio patch on the back. It’s a vintage item that Wendy actually sent to the show’s creators after they got in touch about licensing the Dio name and other items.
Also on deck is the commercial release of the long-awaited Ronnie James Dio documentary, which has been making the rounds at various film festivals.
Read the full interview below.
We are here to talk about the Holy Diver super deluxe edition reissue and to celebrate what would have been Ronnie’s 80th birthday with this amazing four-CD collection. It’s got remakes, the remastered versions of the album and unreleased outtakes. What would Ronnie have liked most about this expanded version of the album?
I think he would have liked the fact that Joe Barresi was bringing it up to modern times and modern technology. When I wanted Joe to do it, he was kind of hesitant. He said, “What can I do? This is a masterpiece of Ronnie’s. We needed to make it just a bit more up to date, so he took the original analog tapes, and I think he did an excellent job. I hope everyone will love it.
Dio, “Holy Diver’ (2022 Joe Barresi remix)
Making Holy Diver was an enormous gamble, personally for you and Ronnie. What was at stake if the album was unsuccessful?
Ronnie always did what he wanted to do. He never listened to what the record label wanted or anyone else. He always stuck to his guns in making the album. He hoped it would be successful. None of us realized how successful it was going to be. We really had been toying around with things and he had written “Holy Diver” and “Don’t Talk to Strangers” during the time he was in Black Sabbath, so they were supposed to be Sabbath songs.
When he left Sabbath, we had a solo deal for him and he just put those songs [on the album] and got the band together, wrote more songs and it came out. Everyone was blown away about the reception that we got and how great the album was and how it’s stood [the test] of time. It’ll be 40 years next year.
This record has made an impression on successive generations of listeners long after its initial release in 1983. Why is this album still a rite of passage for people?
It’s just a great album. I think everyone was so excited. Ronnie was unleashed and able to do whatever he wanted to do for the first time in his life. There was so much excitement and so much fun making the album and writing those songs. This is the first time I think in history that the kids are listening to their parents’ music.
Let’s talk about Stranger Things. Joe Quinn’s character wears a vintage denim Dio jacket that came directly from you. Wendy, what’s gratifying about Ronnie’s legacy permeating current popular culture?
It’s amazing. I think Ronnie would be so happy and so proud that all this time later there’s new generations listening to and wearing his stuff. Before the pandemic, they asked me if they have permission to license the logo and they were going to buy some Dio stuff for the series.
I said, “I have vintage stuff, why don’t I send you some? They were very appreciative, but then I didn’t hear anything for [a while] and I thought it must have been forgotten or not used. All of a sudden, the series is on and Eddie [Munson, one of the main characters] is wearing Ronnie’s The Last In Line T-shirt on his denim jacket and I thought it was so amazing. I was so happy and I just wish Ronnie could have been here to know that. I’m sure there’s a big smile on his face up in the sky.
A documentary about Ronnie is expected later this year. What will people learn from the film that’s perhaps not already known?
A lot about his childhood. It’s an amazing story.
I am so happy with Don Argott and Demian Fenton of 9.14 Pictures — they did such an amazing job. It’s just a story of Ronnie’s life, and it’s a story of hope and all the trials and tribulations that he went through and how he never ever gave up followed his dreams. We went to South by Southwest Film Festival, the Boston Film Festival that Toronto Film Festival and it just came back from Cannes, so, we’re hoping that we’ll have a distributor in the next couple of weeks and that it will be out by the fall.
Oh amazing. I can’t wait to see that.
You’re going to love it. I think everyone else out there will, too.