Dio Public Memorial Features Reverential Performances
Friends and fans concerned about right-wing religious zealots from the Westboro Baptist Church protesting Ronnie James Dio's public memorial service needn't have worried. While a handful picketers showed up, their voices were drowned out by thousands who came to show their love and appreciation for one of the most powerful singers and most dignified individuals in the history of heavy metal.
"The WBC were laughingly irrelevant there," wrote fan Eddie Offermann on the official Ronnie James Dio Facebook fan page. "I've always been annoyed by their hate-mongering but there -- they might as well have been a troupe of clowns. Their weirdly irrelevant signs and the hate of a half dozen among a crowd of thousands who came to share the love of a great man who gave so much to humanity ... It was hard to care about them."
Aside from the barely noticeable troublemakers, the event -- which was held May 30 at the Hall of Liberty at Forest Lawn Hollywood Hills in Los Angeles -- was peaceful and respectful, but not completely quiet.
Queensrÿche vocalist Geoff Tate sang 'Hallelujah,' Anthrax vocalist Joey Belladonna sang to an acoustic rendition of Rainbow's 'Man on the SIlver Mountain,' Deep Purple bassist and vocalist Glenn Hughes (ex-Black Sabbath) sang a solo version of 'Coast to Coast.' Rough Cutt singer Paul Shortino (Quiet Riot), ex-Lynch Mob singer Oni Logan, ex-Asia vocalist John Payne and Dio keyboardist Claude Schnell (Magic, Rough Cutt) also performed at the service. In addition, members of Dio's family, bandmates and industry affiliates spoke to the crowd, who clung to their every word.
Additional footage from the event is available online.
Dio lost his battle with stomach cancer of May 16, two weeks before the fan memorial. He was 67.