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Not democratic at all

Here is a Ronnie James Dio interview from 1981, where he talks about his current band (Black Sabbath) and the previous one (you might have heard about them — Rainbow). The recording is from the collection of Sabbath keyboard player Geoff Nicholls, who passed away in 2017. It was posted by someone dealing with his estate:

I found a cassette with not much information on the label and found a great interview with Ronnie on Radio Trent Nottingham by Graham Neale.
Recorded on the last leg of the Heaven & Hell tour at Bingley Hall, Stafford, England, 25th January 1981.

Thanks to BraveWords for the info.

28 Comments to “Not democratic at all”:

  1. 1
    Mike Mazur says:

    Great interview. Heaven and Hell awsome album. Long live Ronnie James Dio!!!

  2. 2
    MacGregor says:

    Only a few months after I witnessed them in action in Sydney November 1980. From memory the remaining Australian dates were cancelled as Geezer accidentally broke a finger jamming it in a door, in Melbourne I think. Dio singing Ozzy era wasn’t great, he did it well of course but a totally different vocalist as we know. Only one album to pull their own material from also. Seeing Heaven & Hell in 2007 was 3 albums of their own songs plus a couple of new tracks, awesome gig that one! Happy days. Cheers.

  3. 3
    DeeperPurps says:

    Hi MacGregor @ 2. I saw Ronnie with the Sabs on their Heaven & Hell 2007 tour too. Fantastic show – one of the best I have seen, and I have been to a lot of concerts through the years.

  4. 4
    James Steven Gemmell says:

    I saw Dio with Sabbath in March 1982 at the Saginaw Civic Center in Michigan. Still have a couple photos from it. It was snowing pretty hard on the way there, and I heard the “Mob Rules” album for the first time while we drove there from Mount Pleasant. Saw Sabbath in November 1983 at the same venue, and I’d say both shows were equally great. Quiet Riot opened for Sabbath at that gig. Gillan had replaced Dio by then on vocals, and Sabbath were touring in support of the ‘Born Again’ album. Great times.

  5. 5
    Uwe Hornung says:

    Saw both the early Diobbath and the late one as Heaven & Hell. Both good gigs, I’ve never seen Dio sing bad live und I’ve witnessed him about a dozen times in various settings. Between Ozzbbath und Diobbath, I have no preference, Ozzy had a knack for simple melody snippets that stuck, Dio is of course Dio (though I think his best work was in fact with Elf, he made a career of restricting himself more und more rather than branching out with his voice).

    I could kick myself for not seeing Gillbbath when I had the chance – I had a work assignment that night and thought they would tour again, of course they never did. : – ( Born Again is both a Gillan and a Sabbath gem for me – and a curiously forgotten grunge forefather.

    Did even see the Tony Martin/Neil Murray/Cozy Powell line-up of the 90ies once – contrary to historical perception, that was a good, powerful band, albeit without any Sabbath mystique. If Geezer doesn’t stand to the left with his molten lava sound, it ain’t quite Sabbath.

  6. 6
    COQUIN says:

    Black SABBATH et Deep purple voilà deux grands groupes de Hard rock. À vrai dire le Hard rock est ma vie. Je mets Deep purple devant tous les autres groupes du Hard rock. Mon Amour d’entrée dans le Heavy metal a commencé par Deep purple. J’aime profondément les autres groupes tels que : AC/DC; Led Zeppelin ; Who; Ted Nugent ; Iron Maiden and SONT on…

  7. 7
    DeeperPurps says:

    Uwe @ 5 – agreed re the Tony Martin-fronted version of Sabbath. I saw that same Iommi, Powell, Murray. Martin line-up in Innsbruck in October 1990 – it was their Tyr tour. I thought it was a great show, powerfully performed.

  8. 8
    MacGregor says:

    Dio was singing within the context of the music no doubt, he did become less diverse as father time started visiting more often. It happens to all lead vocalist, well most excepting Jon Anderson. He has he luxury of being gifted with a natural ‘alto’ tenor isn’t it, well he still sounds wonderful today. Dio singing back in the 60’s is classic crooner style to my ears, something like that anyway. Ronnie & the Rockets or perhaps a little later. It is hard to imagine it is the same guy in many ways. His vocal with Rainbow is still my favourite & also early Sabbath. The only annoying thing he did with Sabbath back in the day performing live was not shutting up at certain times when Iommi was soloing.
    Regardng the bass feel for Sabbath, I have not witnessed or heard any Neil Murray playing in concert with Sabbath unfortunately, a fine player indeed. However Geezer is the man no doubt. He works so well with Iommi & as he started out on guitar, six string, he then lowered himself, he he (pun intended) to play bass & said he just followed Iommi’s riffs at first, back in the day. But he is much more than that & he has developed a fine technique & sound over the years & no doubt has come up with some almighty riffs himself for Sabbath. He reminds me visually on stage of John Entwistle, they both stand & deliver, show no emotion at all, just getting the job done big time. Laurence Cottle a session bass guitarist who played live with Mike Oldfield & others, is playing on Sabbaths Headless Cross album. You can see him in the background on that wonderful video clip of that very song & it is noticeable that he isn’t a band member as you hardly see him. Neil Murray played with them on that tour I believe, as well as Tyr & that very ordinary Forbidden album & the following tour. Cheers.

  9. 9
    MacGregor says:

    DeeperPurps @ 7 – lucky you, closest we were going to get here in Oz was the Headless Cross tour announced with dates etc. Late 89 or early 90, somewhere around that time from my memory. Then it was pulled for whatever reason, probably lack of promotion or ticket sales. Annoyed indeed, I very much enjoy that era of Sabbath & it was a chance to see Cozy in action also. Cheers

  10. 10
    getahed says:

    “Bingley Hall, Stafford, England, 25th January 1981”

    I was there! Saw Rainbow there too on the Down To Earth tour.

    A Huge cattle market. It has not been used for gigs since the early 80s now that the NEC has taken over.

  11. 11
    Aireight says:

    Interesting about Cozy Powell. As far as I know, things went south when Ronnie asked him to join Dio and he passed. I was lucky enough to see the 76 tour. In 94, there was a meet n greet at a record store, which no one seemed to know since I was about the only one there. He was really nice, but later, the employees didn’t seem to agree. I figured it was because of the turnout…or that he needed a box.

  12. 12
    Matty_B says:

    Great interview, always spoke very well Dio, reasoned and eloquent. Good to hear, though nothing surprising in there. Great days.

  13. 13
    Alan says:

    Getahed @ 10. I remember Bingley Hall Stafford venue too. Saw many bands there including Rainbow, Sabbath, Kiss Rush, Lizzy and others

  14. 14
    Buttockss says:

    I saw the Headless Cross tour in 89 @ The Tower Theatre in Philadelphia, with Cozy, what a great show, with Blue Murder Opening on their debut album.

  15. 15
    Rubber Haddock says:

    Aireight #11. When was this? Cozy was in the Dehumanizer version of Black Sabbath until he decided to have a horse lay on top of him, there is a bootleg of the demos with a couple of unrecorded tracks.

  16. 16
    Jet Auto Jerry says:

    Saw BS at the LA Forum on the Mob Rules Tour with The Outlaws opening. (Still have the Program and both shirts, but they are a little tight now). Weird but good combo with the Guitar Army that the Outlaws were. Also saw Dio on his own a few times, including when he opened for Aerosmith in Costa Mesa in support of Holy Diver (And then he was headlining a few short months later). He was great and he announced that he was doing a Meet & Greet at one of the Orange County Tower Records locations after the show (Didn’t make it). They blew Aerosmith off the stage and AS was so bad that at one point later in the show S. Tyler had to ask the crowd to simmer down or they were going to cite the band for inciting a riot. Were they that bad? Yes, they were. Only the second concert that I walked out on (The other was KISS without makeup right after they shed it).

  17. 17
    ivica says:

    I’m not a big fan of BS but because of Ronnie and Martin Birich (who have changed sound of BS) I listened, great albums “Heaven and Hell” and “The Mob Rules” (“Dehumanizer” is worse).BS with RNJ is a sequel to the old-good Rainbow, Ritchie started as an authors together with Roger and Joe..way AOR (Journey, Foreinger,Survivor …)As a fan of DP and DP family’ What would have happened if ?hypothetical ,Ronnie stay in Rainbow.Interested in what Rainbow would like with melodic lines that were tailored for voice RJD .. in other words- titles “Death Alley Driver”, “Eyes of the World”, “Lost in Hollywood” or ” Spotlight Kid “?even better songs, hard rock anthem.

  18. 18
    Michalis K. says:

    Geoff Nichols…No direct relation to anything Purple methinks , but if there is one unsung hero Geoff is definitely him. I came across his band’s ( Quartz) first LP some 25 -or more years ago and I thought it was absolutely amazing. Dated for sure, but excellent. Seems also that he’d had a lot to do with Sabbath’s 80s sound – kinda strange that he was always the 5th or 6th Sabbath member and almost never an official one.

  19. 19
    Kazz says:

    Always fun hearing these interviews in hindsight. “So happy!” And then leaving after two albums. Rock’n’roll is really fun, haha.

  20. 20
    Adel Faragalla says:

    RJD was the most honest person to give an interview. He didn’t BS and said it straight from the heart. He even stood up to Ritchie and was not scared to walk away and he always pointed out the unfair treatment that different Rainbow member experienced under Ritchie. I think that’s why he was very successful as he was fearless.

  21. 21
    Dr. Bob says:

    Deep Purple and Black Sabbath have been my 1a & 1b bands since my teens. The 1st time I saw Sabbath was the Born Again tour. I love that album and loved the way that Gillan sang Ozzy & Dio songs. My 1st time seeing Purple was a year later on the Perfect Strangers tour.

  22. 22
    Elprupdeep says:

    No Ritchie. No RJD. Simple. So I don’t really love RDJ like I used to especially after he “spit” on Ritchie ( with words).
    Long live DP family.

    Richard Legris.

  23. 23
    Uwe Hornung says:

    Ronnie was a great idiosyncratic singer, but Ritchie (who always had a good ear for what type of vocalist his music required: We need to get harder? Let’s drop Evans and get Gillan. We need to get bluesier? Let’s drop Gillan and get Coverdale.) was right about one thing: Dio’s natural range (even below Coverdale’s) und vocal color wasn’t for AOR if you considered the AOR behemoths of the late 70ies/early 80ies your role models (as Ritchie obviously did at the time). Toto, Styx, REO, Journey, Asia, Survivor, Loverboy, Foreigner … not one of them had a vocalist with a less than helium voice. It came with the genre and the times. And how a higher voice is more attention-grabbing on all-important radio. And whenever Dio did attempt to be AORish – cue in Rainbow In The Dark – he sounded a bit naff, he just wasn’t cut out for that type of music. It’s a bit like Tom Waits or Leonard Cohen or Nick Cave singing with the Eagles. : – ) (For the avoidance of doubt: I love all four.)

    So it wasn’t just that he didn’t want to do stuff like Since You’ve Been Gone, I Surrender, Stone Cold, Street of Dream etc, he also couldn’t credibly have. I think it’s no coincidence that Dio’s one and only single (limited) success in a 50 year career was Roger’s Love Is All, which was in essence a novelty song.

    That’s no knock of the great man. Ronnie had other und more lasting qualities – and no one could sing his stuff credibly, Bonnet’s, Turner’s and even Gillan’s attempts at Dio songs always made me cringe.

    And I don’t deny that Ritchie’s left-turn to AOR that late in his career was more last-ditch-attempt than a thought-out strategy he really committed to. The truth is that Ritchie isn’t much of an AOR songwriter or even AOR musician, he’s no Mick Jones who was prepared to let his guitar take a step or two (sometimes even three) back in service of a song. Ritchie back then still had too much virtuoso vanity to squeeze into such a role.

    These days, making music with his missus, I wish his virtuoso vanity would come out more!

  24. 24
    Adel Faragalla says:

    Uwe @23
    I love your analysis and I admire your knowledge.
    I just want to add that Ritchie’s sack and replace days are over for a simple reason. He can’t afford Candice divorce bill plus he has two kids to pay maintence for so want goes around comes around and he is having a taste of his medicine.
    Cheers m8

  25. 25
    MacGregpr says:

    Yes indeed Uwe, you nailed it with Dio, pretty much how I have always heard it over the years. We can hear a little ‘commercial’ Dio Rainbow on LA Connection, the title track & one or two others on that final album. But that is about it for that early era of his to my ears. Dio & his solo outing are not for me, heard plenty of it & found it third rate in many ways. He always was at his best with the two ‘Men in Black’ as far as I am concerned. Plus those three songs on The Butterfly Ball.
    Adel @ 24 – I will take that comment in good humour. Although Blackmore has always admitted he lacked discipline to really knuckle down to serious music throughout his years. A touch of classical lessons early on, admiring Jeff Beck & Jethro Tull for their output, attitude etc. I doubt he would have ever retired from the boring repetitive circle of endless rock ‘n roll, to set up a fish farm or started breeding horses or something like that, on an estate somewhere in Europe. He has opted for the easy approach to retirement, not too difficult, living in the US of A, still in touch with Europe & twiddling around on a stringed instrument or two & he is still the ‘boss’ no doubt, he he! Cheers.

  26. 26
    Uwe Hornung says:

    We can’t discuss the great man here without one of his earlier “AOR” efforts!


    That’s what I missed in his Dio material, some pop (not neccessarily AOR) light-heartedness, it was too often too much dungeons & dragons over sluggish rhythms and minor chords for me. Whole Dio albums could get dreary.

  27. 27
    MacGregor says:

    Ha Ha, yes that clip, I was only telling a friend last night about Dio & his many facets through out the 60’s. I told him the camera operator seemed to be more interested in the anatomy of the ladies than the band! Probably psychedelic flower power style more than anything else. Sort of. Regarding Dio’s solo output, I remember reading a Iommi interview at the Dehumanizer time. Two things he discussed with Dio when they started to talk about a reunion were, allegedly, no dungeons & dragons lyrics & shut up when I am soloing. Something like that anyway from my memory. I rate Dio highly for his Rainbow & Sabbath lyrics, a good story teller etc. Clever. I prefer the escapism lyrics than say Gillan’s style at times. Gillan is a good analytical writer, however I become bored with a lot of what he says, well some of it. Those horrible comical cheap looking album covers of the Dio albums said it all in a way. Just as bad as that Born Again album cover, although at least that album had some grunt & good songs. Cheers.

  28. 28
    Uwe Hornung says:

    Oh yeah, the album art of the Dio albums was horrible. I must remember to forget those! The Rainbow Rising art was iconic, the Dio sleeves were naff. And I always had issues telling them apart.

    Plus that dragon on stage he fought with a sword – that certainly out-tapped Spinal Tap. The poor thing looked excessively silly (like something you would find in a Mattel set “Barbie’s Pet Dragon”), I had “Fremdschämen”/ felt embarrassed for Ronnie (and all dragons) when it made its appearance at one gig I saw in the mid-80ies. As the Spinal Tappers would say: “It’s such a fine line between clever and stupid.” The dragon, however, crossed it handily. History shows again and again how nature points up the folly of man – Go-Go-Godzilla … ; – )

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