(For the record, I occasionally struggle with if it’s “right” to post something. Sometimes I worry that things I write that I feel are legitimate criticisms or are meant to be “matter-of-perspective” posts might come off as sour-grapes and/or just mean-spirited. This is one of those…but I think I walk the line without going over it. I may feel different at a later date…so in case that happens, I’m going to go ahead and apologize in advance.)
I’ve been reading a bunch of reports online where the widow of Ronnie James Dio is upset with some of the bands and organizations who she feels are “misusing” Dio’s name in putting together “tribute” records and events. Her contention appears to be (from what I’ve read—of course, I don’t personally KNOW her) that some of the artists look to potentially make personal profit from the releases/events and that they are not donating to Dio’s “Stand Up And Shout Cancer Fund.” (As an interesting side-note, many of the rock blogs are no longer linking to it in posts. You’ll notice that I have followed that example.)
Now… Wendy Dio lost the most important person in her life just BARELY over a month ago. I know it was devastating. I’m not even a Dio fan and even I gave him a nod on my blog and was a little bit saddened, as a metal fan. I can’t imagine the pain she lives with every day, waking up and knowing that she’ll never see him again. I have all the sympathy in the world for her and hope that she can pick up the pieces and carry on as soon as possible.
That said… I feel like she is giving Ronnie a black eye on this one.
If you’re in pain, you have the right to deal with it however you need to…but it’s a REALLY bad idea to lash out against people within the same industry as your departed, who grew up knowing every lyric, solo, and cymbal crash. The answer isn’t going to Blabbermouth (website) and bad-mouthing Manowar (of whom I’m not particularly a fan) for putting together a Dio tribute record. She’s specifically singled them out, for some reason.
First of all, Manowar isn’t exactly a household name (though they’re bigger overseas) and stands to make less-than Manager-at-Arby’s money off the record. Tribute records typically sell poorly and only their hardcore fan-base will buy it in the first place (Dio fans, shockingly, are more likely to buy Dio records). Manowar may as well be making any given record…but they’re not. They’re making a record that they feel honors one of their heroes (and, more-so, a guy one of the band-members personally knew, though the level of their friendship is disputable). Who knows? Maybe one of their fans will discover Dio’s music for the first time and buy records that put money in the family trust’s pocket—much like the royalties they’re getting from those bands paying for copyright and use of the songs (and I wonder how much of that will go to the Cancer Fund…hmm…Wendy?).
Let me put this in my own pocket… If Pete Townshend died tomorrow, you can bet that my next solo gig would include an ASSLOAD of Who songs…and I probably wouldn’t donate anything to the “Whatever Killed Pete Fund.” I’d play the songs because I love Townshend’s music, will miss hearing him play new shows, and want other people to hear SOMEONE play those songs, since Pete can’t do it anymore. (Of course, I recognize that I’m not anywhere near as good as him…but I’m all I’ve got.) It would be a cathartic gesture to help myself overcome my own sadness at the loss I’d feel at the death of someone I grew up watching and emulating (in guitar playing…not in some other ways, just to be clear). And yes, I’d make money off of it—probably. Not a lot…but there’d be money to be had…some of which would go to paying myself back for expenses for travel, strings, etc, etc… Some would go to paying bills that I need to pay in order to keep—y’know—living. The rest, I’d probably blow on more music, books, movies, or comic books. There would be no intended disrespect to Townshend…in fact there’d be nothing BUT respect intended. And if I walk away with a little pocket-money, it doesn’t really take any awareness away from whatever disease killed him…and I (like Manowar, et al) wouldn’t be selling it as “raising money” for anything.
It’d be one thing if any of the show/record promoters or bands were coming out and saying, “All/A percentage of the profits will benefit the Stand Up And Shout Cancer Fund” and then didn’t deliver the money. Then there would be a legitimate gripe. But to my knowledge, no one is making that claim…people are just putting out cover versions of Dio’s music and celebrating what he did for metal…just like they always did. For YEARS, people have been covering Dio songs and/or name-checking him without giving any proceeds to charity. For example…Tenacious D wrote “Tribute” talking about how awesome Dio is, adding on that they feel they should be passed his torch. It’s funny and minorly irreverent…and Dio liked it. He put them in one of his videos, appeared in their movie, and kind of buddied up to them. And they didn’t give anything to a cancer fund from any of that. Not a penny. Even Dio himself made some substantial profit off of playing songs live to which he didn’t necessarily own a legitimate copyright (hence why “Heaven and Hell” went by that name instead of “Black Sabbath”). This isn’t new.
The only thing that has changed is that Ronnie James Dio is dead. People loved him in life. People love him in death. Some of those people are working through their own personal catharsis by playing his music and screaming his name into microphones to the delight and applause of audiences. Wendy Dio—who, make no mistake, sincerely loves him way MORE than anyone else—is working through her own grief by calling “fraud” on bands that still sleep in their vans.
She has every right to do that. Were I in the same boat, I might do the same… But I’m not… I’m just the guy that’s telling you that Wendy Dio is working through her grief by yelling at bands that stand to make less money off of Dio’s name than she does. (That’s harsh. I know it’s harsh. If it helps, I stand to make less money at my DAY JOB than Dio made off of waking up in the morning…so that’s what I’m worth, on the scale.)
But… This has inspired me to say the following. If I die of some kind of weird disease and anyone out there wants to play my songs in my absence… I’d appreciate it if you mention who wrote the tune, but keep the money. The $7 you’ll make off my name won’t cure cancer and won’t bring me back to life anyway.
On a side note… If all you have in an 8-hour period is 2 cups of black coffee, some red Twizzlers, a Mr. Pibb, then another cup of coffee…your mouth kinda tastes like throw-up.