Wendy Dio to Host Memorial Fundraiser For Late Husband Ronnie James Dio

Wendy Dio
Craig Newman

Wendy Dio

As she prepares to commemorate the fifth anniversary of Ronnie James Dio's death, Wendy Dio, his widow and manager, is also hatching plans to explore his musical vaults. 

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"There is some stuff," Dio tells Billboard. "When Ronnie passed away (on May 16, 2010 from stomach cancer at the age of 67), I closed his studio up and haven't been in there since. But I will." Dio says there are "about six unreleased" songs her late husband was working on with regular collaborators such as Doug Aldrich and Jimmy Bain. "I will look at that. If it's up to Ronnie's standards it will come out; if not, it won't. Ronnie was a perfectionist. I don't want to put it out just to put it out." Dio says there are also plenty of concert tapes from throughout Dio's career. "Every time he did a concert we always took tapes of it -- Russia, Brazil, live tapes of everything."

First on her docket, however, is re-releasing "Stars," the 1985 song for famine relief by the Dio-led ad hoc all-star group Hear 'N' Aid. Dio is working on "legal issues" involving the corps of artists who were part of the project but says there's a treasure trove of unreleased material from the sessions -- "tapes and tapes and tapes, films that were taken during that." This time out "Stars" will benefit the Ronnie James Dio Stand Up and Shout Cancer Fund, which was established after his death and has so far raised about $1 million.

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The fund will be the chief beneficiary of this weekend's A Celebration of the Life and Music of Ronnie James Dio -- The 5th Year Remembrance. The series of events kicks off with Friday's (May 15) Rock & Bowl Celebrity Charity Event at Pinz Bowling Center in Studio City, Calif., which will be hosted by Eddie Trunk and feature Tom Morello, ex-Guns N' Roses drummer Steven Adler and Tenacious D along with a silent auction of bowling pins autographed by members of Metallica, Aerosmith, Anthrax, Yes and others. On Saturday, May 16, the Ronnie James Dio 5th Year Memorial Service takes place at Forest Lawn Cemetery in Hollywood Hills, Calif., in the on-site auditorium with a simulcast on a screen outside; performers will include Lita Ford, Rough Cutt -- which is re-forming just for the memorial -- Great White, former Asia member John Payne, David Feinstein from Dio's pre-Rainbow band Elf, Black Sabbath/Heaven & Hell bandmate Vinnie Appice and members of the Dio Disciples, Anberlin, Stone Sour and more. (For a full list of performances, see below.) The weekend wraps Sunday (May 17) with the Ride For Ronnie Motorcycle Ride from the Harley Davidson dealership in Glendale to Los Encinos Park for a barbecue and a performance by Eddie Money. 

"The whole idea is to keep Ronnie's legend and his music alive and to raise money for cancer research and get rid of this horrible disease," Wendy Dio says. "Those have always been the goals. We've just been building as many things as possible to keep Ronnie's music alive and keep money coming in to the (charity)."

The full performance list for Saturday's Memorial Service includes:

“Lisa” (acoustic) – Lita Ford, Patrick Kennison (The Union Underground), Marty O'Brien

“Heaven & Hell” (acoustic) – Great White

“Last In Line” (acoustic) – Great White feat. Lorraine Lewis (Femme Fetale)

“Take Her” – Rough Cutt (Paul Shortino, Amir Derakh, Chris Hager, Matt Thorne, Dave Alford)

“Mistreated” – John Payne (Asia), Rock Feinstein (Elf, The Rods), Christian Martucci (Stone Sour), Sean Mcnabb (Quiet Riot, Dokken, Great White), Roy Mayorga(Stone Sour) & Scott Warren (Dio, Heaven & Hell)

“Rainbow In The Dark” – Gabbie Rae, Rowan Robertson (Dio), Rudy Sarzo (Quiet Riot, Ozzy Osbourne, Whitesnake, Geoff Tate, Dio), Vinny Appice (Black Sabbath, Dio, Rick Derringer, Heaven & Hell) & Scott Warren (Dio, Heaven & Hell)

“Sign Of The Southern Cross" – Ann Boleyn, Craig Goldy (Dio), Sean Mcnabb (Quiet Riot, Dokken, Great White), Simon Wright (Dio, AC/DC) & Scott Warren (Dio, Heaven & Hell)

“Stargazer” – Dio Disciples:  Oni Logan (Lynch Mob), Joe Retta (Sweet),Craig Goldy (Dio), Bjorn Englen (Hellion), Simon Wright (Dio, AC/DC) & Scott Warren (Dio, Heaven & Hell)

“Stand Up And Shout” – Ricky Warwick (Black Star Riders), Robbie Crane (Black Star Riders), Chris Broderick (ex-Megadeth, Act of Defiance), Jimmy Bain (Dio, Rainbow) & Vinny Appice (Black Sabbath, Dio, Rick Derringer, Heaven & Hell)