Tim "Ripper" Owens has once again defended DIO DISCIPLES' decision to go on the road with a hologram of Ronnie James Dio, saying that and and his bandmates are only doing it to "make fans happy."
Dio died in 2010 at the age of 67 from stomach cancer. His hologram was created by a company called Eyeillusion and made its debut at the Wacken Open Air festival in August 2016 in front of more than 75,000 fans.
The "Dio Returns: The World Tour" production uses audio of Ronnie's live performances from throughout his career, with the DIO DISCIPLES band playing live, consisting of Craig Goldy on guitar, Simon Wright on drums and Scott Warren on keyboards, along with Bjorn Englen on bass. Also appearing with them are Owens and LYNCH MOB's Oni Logan.
Based on video footage of the first leg of last year's tour, Dio fans had mixed reactions to the apparition of their favorite singer, with some loving it and others thinking the performance didn't live up to the real thing or that it was just plain creepy.
Speaking to Greece's Rock Overdose about some fans' unwillingness to embrace the Dio hologram, the former JUDAS PRIEST singer said: "I don't understand why someone wouldn't like it. Myself, before I wouldn't like it, at least I would go and see it or give it a chance. We're doing it because we're friends and we're celebrating him. It's an amazing event, to be at it, to hear Ronnie's voice… It's a hologram… People have no problem going to movies or seeing movies about somebody and somebody acting and playing this person. I mean, this is just something we're trying to do to make fans happy.
"I would love to go see a hologram of Elvis [Presley] or David Bowie; I think it would be an amazing night to watch some kind of show," he continued. "I mean, it's a show — it's just a show. It's entertainment. It's a great idea. It cost [Ronnie's widow and manager] Wendy Dio a lot of money. She spent a lot of money trying to do a hologram to make fans happy. She's always trying to think of an idea to make fans happy, really — just like Ronnie. 'Cause that's what Ronnie was like — Ronnie always wanted to make fans happy."
After the tour's initial seven-date run was completed last December, Ronnie's hologram is undergoing "some changes" before the launch of the next leg of the "Dio Returns" world tour, scheduled for 2019.
Wendy Dio, who is a member of the Eyellusion team, said that the people that criticize the Ronnie James Dio hologram should at least see it in person before voicing their disapproval. "Don't criticize it if you haven't seen it," she told "Whiplash", the KLOS radio show hosted by Full Metal Jackie. "It's done with love. The band love doing it. And we just wanna keep Ronnie's memory and his music alive."
She added that a digital version of Dio makes perfect sense. "I think that Ronnie was an innovator of heavy metal music, so why not be an innovator of technology?" she said. "And I think technology is coming a long way with holograms — a lot of people are doing it now. And I think the reason is because we are losing all of our innovators; everybody is getting older. And we need to keep them alive and keep their memory and their music alive. I think it's a new way. It's like when people first came out with a CD or a cassette: 'Ooh, we don't want that.' But then it was the way of technology."