Fans, Musicians Pay Tribute to Dio at the 4th Annual ‘Ride for Ronnie’
"Family" was a big theme at the 4th Annual Ride for Ronnie, the annual motorcycle ride and concert at Los Encinos State Historic Park that pays tribute to the late Ronnie James Dio and raises funds for the Ronnie James Dio Stand Up and Shout Cancer Fund. Whether it was members of the metal family (musicians and people who work in the industry), or rock and metal fans who had lost friends or family members to cancer, the event felt like a denim and leather-clad reunion.
Wendy Dio, the founder of the Ronnie James Dio Stand Up and Shout Cancer Fund, returned to lead the riders on their journey from the Harley-Davidson of Glendale to Los Encinos State Historic Park on a bright and sunny Sunday morning (May 6) in the Los Angeles area. Dio spoke about the importance of getting tested for cancer and described the continued research funded by the foundation. As one of the police officers gave instructions to the riders, he also asked how many had seen cancer affect someone they knew, which drew a staggering number of raised hands.
Wendy Dio and Dr. Sandeep Kapoor, two of the Stand Up and Shout board members, were among the riders, with Dio sporting her distinctive pink leather jacket and matching Dio helmet. She made the annual pilgrimage with Big Scott, Ronnie's longtime right-hand man, as they cruised down the 101 freeway. “This year I was really comfortable," Dio told us, about getting used to being on a motorcycle. She also marveled at the turnout, stating, “It was great to see all those bikes. There were so many bikes this year.”
Railgun were the first of the performers to hit the stage, but their set was already in progress by the time the motorcycles arrived at the park, which meant that the first act for a majority of the crowd was Classless Act, playing their very first gig. Drummer London Hudson is Slash's son, and their set garnered plenty of buzz. They paid tribute to Dio via a cover of Black Sabbath's "The Mob Rules," a track the band worked up for the occasion. “We just thought it’d be cool to do. And for it to be a Sabbath song too. It just worked and it fits our style too," said Hudson. “I love the riff and the drumming is just so hard.”
“I have a cousin that passed away from cancer earlier this year and it was super sad," said Hudson, who revealed three-star tattoos that he shares with all of his family members in honor of her loss. "I just wanted to have a piece of her on me."
The Lynyrd Skynyrd tribute act One More From the Road performed next, ripping through such classics as "That Smell" and the blistering set-closing "Free Bird." A signed guitar from the "real" Skynyrd's Artemis Pyle that was signed right after they were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame was one of the items up for auction that got the largest bids of the day, along with Wendy Dio's motorcycle jacket, a Heaven and Hell jacket, and Dio Disciples singer Ripper Owens' stage-worn jacket and hat.
Beasto Blanco brought their theatrical presence to the stage next. Chuck Garric and Calico Cooper took turns on vocals throughout the set. Garric played to the crowd with "Hell Yeah" proudly taped to his guitar, while Cooper delivered a fierce performance carrying her spiked "Louisville Slugger" bat and a mannequin arm. Highlights included standout performances of "Death Rattle," "Grind," "I Know" and a cover of Alice Cooper's "Feed My Frankenstein." Garric also stopped before the final track to relay the gratitude of having played with Ronnie James Dio and recalling the initial call he got from Wendy to try out for the band. Garric not only played bass for Dio, but also for Alice Cooper, while the band's Calico Cooper is Alice's daughter.
Speaking about being part of the next generation and carrying on the legacy of music, Calico Cooper told us after the performance, “When you talk about metal as a family, there are kings. There’s Ozzy and Alice and Ronnie and I think as the King’s Court, we show and support when anything like this is going down.” She went on to add, “Ronnie is the patron saint, but everyone has a reason to be here today. You’ve gotta show up, shout out and make it count.”
Dio Disciples, who recently signed to record an album of original music stuck with their traditional performance of playing Ronnie James Dio classics. Singers Ripper Owens and Oni Logan traded off on vocals, with "Mob Rules," "Neon Knights" and "Stargazer" among the performance highlights.
Finishing out the day was a Steven Adler-led all-star performance. The drummer didn't come on until late in the set, as a number of players took the stage to provide several covers to start the set. Highlights included Black Star Riders' Ricky Warwick joining the band for a blistering cover of Motorhead's "Ace of Spades," Budderside's Patrick Stone on Adler's first song, the Guns N' Roses favorite "Rocket Queen," and Adler's Appetite vocalist Constantine Maroulis singing "Mr. Brownstone" and "Anything Goes."
During the show, a $25,000 check was presented to Dr. David Wong, who is working to develop a saliva test that can help detect stomach, prostate and pancreatic cancer (the test is expected to be approved by August). “To see the love that comes from everyone – from the musicians and the fans – to see it grow, it’s just been incredible,” says Dio of the continued support.
Check out our photos from the 4th Annual Ride for Ronnie motorcycle ride and concert in the gallery below and learn how you can donate to the Ronnie James Dio Stand Up and Shout Cancer Fund here.
4th Annual Ride for Ronnie Photo Gallery