Wendy Dio and the Ronnie James Dio Stand Up and Shout Cancer Fund will present the third-annual Ride for Ronnie this Sunday, May 7.
The event kicks off at Harley Davidson of Glendale, California, and ends in Encino with a live concert, auction and dining at Los Encinos State Historic Park.
This year’s event is hosted by Dio’s longtime friend, Eddie Trunk, and the lineup includes performances by Lynch Mob, Dio Disciples, Eddie Money, Rough Cutt and an all-star band featuring Steven Adler (Guns N’ Roses). There'll be a silent auction at one of the exhibit booths throughout the afternoon while live auctions—featuring one-of-a-kind rock collectibles—will take place between performances.
Last year's event raised more than $50,000 for the cancer charity, and 100 percent of funds goes to cancer research and education.
I recently spoke with Wendy Dio about this year’s Ride for Ronnie and more.
When did the idea for Ride for Ronnie begin?
It really began when we were trying to raise money for cancer and keep Ronnie’s legacy alive. When we did the fifth memorial for Ronnie, we realized there were a lot of people coming in from Sweden, Italy and from all over the US. We decided to try to find something for them to do over the weekend and at the same time help raise more money. So we came up with the idea of putting together a bowling event the day before and having a Ride for Ronnie the day after. Harley Davidson from Glendale came on board as our sponsor, and it was so successful and we had so much fun that we said this is great idea.
At the first one, we had about 150 riders and 500 people. Last year, we had 350 riders and 1,500 people in attendance and raised more than $50,000. We’re hoping this year to have more people and do even better. We have a great lineup, and it will be fun day for everyone keeping Ronnie’s music and memory alive while raising money for cancer research and education.
How does the Ride for Ronnie work?
“Kickstands Up” will start at the Harley Davidson in Glendale and then we’ll ride with a police escort ride to Encino where we’ll have bands playing. But people don’t have to ride to be a part of the event. They can just buy a ticket to come into the show—it’s $25 pre-sale and $35 on the day of the event.
What can you tell me about this year’s entertainment?
Eddie Trunk, who’s been a great supporter of heavy metal music and a great friend of Ronnie’s, is hosting again. We’ve got Lynch Mob, Dio Disciples, Eddie Money, a re-formed Rough Cutt, the Loveless, Sonia Harley and No Small Children. We also have a surprise—Steven Adler recently came on board and is putting together an all-star band to do some Guns N’ Roses songs. There also will be vendors, food trucks, beer and wine, live and silent auctions and raffles, with items that include a signed Great White guitar as well as a bundle of Black Sabbath and Dio stuff.
What does it say about Ronnie and the impact he made with his life and music when you see all of these people coming to support him and the cause?
Ronnie was a special kind of person. He loved people and fans. He was friends with everyone, whether it was a fan, a crew person or even another band opening for him. He treated everyone the same. He just loved being with people and spending time with them.
How can people who aren’t able to make this year’s Ride For Ronnie able to help out?
Visit our website for coming events and to donate and buy merchandise with 100 percent of the money going to the cancer fund.
What gives you the most satisfaction about these events?
Just the time and talent the musicians and fans give; it’s so humbling. Heavy metal gets a bad rap, but they’re the most generous people when it comes down to it. We’re giving another $25,000 to Dr. David Wong, who is developing a saliva test at UCLA. We’ve also donated to the T.J. Martell Foundation and the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston as well as the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center in Nashville. Every penny we raise goes to support research. We have no administration fees and have 14 board members who are all volunteers. We try to spread the word that early detection saves lives, and that’s why the saliva test is so important.
Are there any other projects you’re working on?
We’re still working on a hologram project and have six songs we hope to have ready by the fall. We’re doing it out of love for Ronnie and for the people who would love to see him back on stage with his band and for those who might not have seen him before. It’s so realistic and something you have to see in person, because the videos of it don’t do it justice. I think Ronnie would give it his blessing.
What are some of your best memories of Ronnie?
Ronnie was such a wonderful human being. I remember so many things from the time I met him in 1974, when he was just about to tour with Rainbow. Then when he joined Black Sabbath, that was another wonderful time of adventures. Of course, Holy Diver was amazing when we wound up having to do things completely ourselves. But the best memory was when he was back with Sabbath and they all loved each other and were playing amazingly well. Ronnie had come full circle and went out on a high note. He was back with his Sabbath guys, and they were making fantastic music together.
For more information about Ride for Ronnie, visit diocancerfund.org.
James Wood is a writer, musician and self-proclaimed metalhead who maintains his own website, GoJimmyGo.net. His articles and interviews are written on a variety of topics with passion and humor. You can follow him on Twitter @JimEWood.