Heaven & Hell’s Vinny Appice on First Meeting Dio and Black Sabbath
Thie Blu-Ray version of Heaven & Hell’s essential ‘Radio City Music Hall Live’ concert film hits stores this week. On the night of the show, it had been 15 years since the lineup of Ronnie James Dio, Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler, and Vinny Appice played on a stage together as Heaven & Hell. Their celebratory return took place on March 30, 2007 and has since become one of the most talked about concerts in metal.
“Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler, and Ronnie Dio – you’re talking about three legends right there. Even though I played with them on and off since 1980, there was still something special about looking over and seeing them on stage with me. I felt lucky to have played with them,” said Appice during a conversation with Noisecreep on the one year anniversary of Dio’s untimely passing.
The drummer first played with Dio and his Heaven & Hell bandmates in a latter-day version of Black Sabbath. Noisecreep asked Appice about their first meeting together.
“I got a call from Paul Clark, Black Sabbath’s tour manager, telling me that they were looking for a new drummer. I was in Los Angeles at the time so I went over to the Sunset Marquis and met with him. We were in the middle of our conversation when Tony Iommi came into the room. We hit it off immediately and started joking around with each other. He then told me to meet him the next day at S.I.R. Studios to jam with him and the rest of the Sabbath guys.”
During that point in Appice’s career, he had already played in Rick Derringer’s band and even led his own project called Axis. Regardless, his union with Sabbath was a huge step forward for the native Long Islander.
“I remember walking in and seeing Geezer and Ronnie and feeling really intimidated. I was still pretty young at that point, and knowing that these guys I was about to play with already had done huge things definitely made me a bit nervous. But I didn’t let it get in the way of what I was supposed to do, so I hopped on the drums and we kicked ass together. We clicked and they asked me to join shortly after that.”
Watch Heaven & Hell’s ‘Falling Off the Edge of the World’ live video
The Appice version of Black Sabbath ended up touring the already-released ‘Heaven & Hell’ album. Noisecreep wanted to know if it was tough for him to fit into the band, personality-wise.
“It was obviously easier to get to know Ronnie easier since we were both New Yorkers. We also shared a lot of interests and sense of humor. At that point I hadn’t had that much contact with British people, so it took a bit longer to get to know Tony and Geezer. It took a little bit of time to learn their humor and expressions, but I finally did [laughs].
“Tony loves practical jokes and winding people up and he did that to me – but it broke the ice. Geezer isn’t as out-going, but he’s definitely got a dry sense of humor.”
Since we were speaking on the one year anniversary of Ronnie’s death, Noisecreep asked Appice how he was holding up.
“What hurts the most is when I think about the things we could be doing together if Ronnie was still with us. Like I said, we had a lot of things in common. We both loved building things. I don’t know if people know this or not, but Ronnie loved going to Home Depot [laughs]. When Simon Wright [ex-drummer of Dio and AC/DC] lived at Ronnie’s house, they would build all kinds of stuff together.
Ronnie was a special person and all I can do for him is continue playing the songs to keep the music alive. I play in an all-star group with Joe Lynn Turner, Phil Soussan, and Carlos Cavazo called Big Noize and we just played the M3 Festival last weekend. We did ‘The Last in Line’ and some other Dio songs and the response was amazing. His music lives on and I miss him terribly.”
Heaven & Hell’s ‘Radio City Music Hall Live’ is out now on Blu-Ray.