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Ronnie James Dio

The only problem with this book is that it ends in 1986, with the band Dio at it's peak, after the transition from Campbell to Goldie.  As Wendy Dio explains in the preface:

Whenever Ronnie and I talked about where the book should end, he was adamant that this first memoir should end in 1986, on the very night Dio headlined Madison Square Garden. There is clearly a book to be written one day about that final quarter-century of Ronnie’s life. Certainly there is enough material in the bulging archive for us to one day shape into a superlative book along those lines, but this is not that book. This is a book about what Ronnie saw as “the first half of my life,” in his own words, in his own inimitable style, and in keeping with the spirit of how he wanted to be remembered. Upbeat, never say die, absolutely undeniable.  

Perhaps someday, Wendy will write the follow-up book.

Until then, everything else about this book is great. Ronnie's story, in Ronnie's own words, with some additional commentary and clarification from Wendy along the way. It begins with Ronnie's upbringing, the point he turned to music, and his dogged pursuit of his dreams through the years of Ronnie and the Red Caps/Profits, the Elf years (cheating death multiple times), and then on to his more famous stops. Here we get the good, the bad, and the ugly of of Ronnie's dealings with Blackmore, Sabbath (the first time around) and the original Dio band. Obviously from Ronnie's side of the story, but in all cases, he tries to explain both sides of the conflicts -- as he saw them.  Most of this stuff is fairly well know already, but Ronnie provides some additional clarity here. 

The Cliff notes version: In the case of Rainbow, it was very much a case of Ritchie being the character he is, combined with his desire for commercial succuess. In the case of Sabbath, Ronnie suggests, Iommi's cocaine addiction made him a different person over time. The falling-out with Campbell was about promises Campbell says Dio made, that were not kept. Ronnie also claims that as it became clear to Viv he wasn't going to get what he wanted, he became a disinterested band memeber who was bringing he band energy down. 

Ronnie's side:

Vivian later claimed that when we started out, I’d said to him that I would be bankrolling the band, but by the time we got to the third album, it would become more equal. After The Last in Line, I began hearing about it a little more often, but nothing is as simple as it sounds. We were all making good money, but the financial responsibility still lay with Wendy and me. I employed the road crew and all the other staff we needed. I paid for the recording studio and the stage production plus hotels, buses, trucks, crew, airfares, and everything else needed on a big tour. I made the decisions over what we should spend, because those decisions affected the artistic integrity of the band and how we did what we did. If I got that wrong, then there wasn’t going to be any money to share. I kept a lid on my feelings as far as Vivian was concerned, at least at first. If I imagined myself at twenty years of age on stage in front of 14,000 people, doing world tours, being awarded Gold and Platinum discs with my name on, I would have thought I was set for life, too. The reality was different, though. Viv would learn, just as I had.

Wendy Dio: Vivian was quoted in the press saying he made less money in Dio than the road crew, but he was making $1,700 a week whether he worked or he didn’t. He managed to buy a Ferrari.  It still makes me a little angry because Ronnie was fair to all of them. They wanted to be considered Ronnie’s equal and get the same money as Ronnie. I’m sorry, but I said no to that. Ronnie got all the shit for it, but I’m the bad guy.

Wendy Dio on the actual split with Campbell: This is another part of Ronnie’s story that has been misrepresented in the press over the years, which I will now clear up. What happened is this: during the break between the US and European tours, out of the blue, Vivian had a lawyer call me. He said that what Vivian wanted was more money and a piece of the band. I can’t remember how much more money he wanted as a salary, I think it might have been double the $1,700 he was getting, on top of which he wanted equity in the band, a cut of everything, not just the royalties he was due from the records, but everything else, too. This lawyer told me I had five days to make up my mind. If I refused, Vivian was not going to do the European tour. Ronnie and I being the way we were, we did not like anyone putting a gun to our heads. So, we decided, forget it. Ronnie was having problems with him anyway. When his lawyer called me again five days later I said, “We’ve already replaced him.” That is the whole story.

Ronnie: Vivian felt he’d been fired, but I certainly didn’t see it that way. He’d gotten his lawyer to present us with an ultimatum—either we complied, or he was leaving. We declined. He left. That doesn’t sound like a firing to me.


But aside from all of the he-said, she-said, this book is a wonderful, must-read for all Dio fans.