Sunday, November 12, 2006

Neon Knights

"Good things never last,
Nothing's in the past,
It always seems to come again.
Again and again.
Again and again.

When the following news hit the Information Superhighway last week I almost screamed like King Diamond:


- Nov. 9, 2006

Legendary heavy metal singer Ronnie James Dio (DIO, BLACK SABBATH, RAINBOW) has revealed to Classic Rock magazine that HEAVEN AND HELL — the new band featuring Dio alongside original BLACK SABBATH members Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler and Bill Ward — will likely headline next year's Monsters of Rock festival.

Monsters of Rock returned to the U.K. festival scene at Milton Keynes Bowl this past summer, with DEEP PURPLE as headliners. Now it looks like it will return in 2007, with HEAVEN AND HELL on the bill.

The following is a brief interview Classic Rock conducted with Dio at Monday's (Nov. 6) Classic Rock Roll of Honour event in London:

Classic Rock: Speaking of Tony Iommi, there are of course rumors that you will be reuniting with him, Geezer Butler and Bill Ward as HEAVEN AND HELL next year.

Ronnie: They're absolutely true. We'll probably be doing a year of touring together. And it's looking like you'll see us at the Monsters of Rock festival, then shows in America. And after that we'll come back to the U.K. for eight or nine more shows.

Alot of my Old Metal buddies agree with me that the 4 Black Sabbath albums (3 studio + 1 live) with Dio are equal (or even superior) to the band's output in the 70's. For the newbies: Dio was in Sabbath from 1980-82 and then again in 1992.. I'll go out on a limb and state that most of the songs spawned during his time in the lineup are superior musically and lyrically to Ozzy-era Sabbath. There, I said it.

Dio is a gifted vocalist and lyricist and he brought these talents to his Sabbath alliance; Ozzy was always Iommi and Geezer's errand boy musically and creatively (Geezer Butler wrote the majority of Black Sabbath's lyrics in the 70's, NOT Ozzy... VH1 doesn't mention that, do they?). Ozzy flashes the Peace Sign onstage; Dio flashes the Devil Horns. Fuck that Hippie Shit; S810!

Also, Tony Iommi's solos on the Dio-era albums are the best of his career IMO. Listen to songs like 'Heaven And Hell' or 'Turn Up The Night' and you will know what I say is true.

"Turn up the night, it feels so right!"


I was 16-years old and my cousin and I took BART to Oakland Stadium from his house in Concord. There were alot of huge scary bikers down front during Sabbath's set. Dio wore a cape onstage in the Summer heat, but when they opened with 'War Pigs' > 'Neon Knights' he had the crowd in the palm of his Elven hand.

Dio's Cape > Summertime Heat
(Pic by Timo)

I got separated from my cousin in the crowd and ended up falling asleep in the stands during Journey. About a month after this show, Bill Ward quit the band and didn't perform with Geezer and Iommi again for 5 years (at LiveAid).

Merch purchased: Black 'Heaven And Hell' shirt.

About 3 months after this show, Geezer Butler caught a bottle with his face in Milwaukee and Sabbath left the stage after only 2 songs... which resulted in this:

The Milwaukee Journal
October 10, 1980

Give the people what they want, and they'll beat a path to your door. But take something away from a Milwaukee heavy-metal crowd, and . . .

"The bands, the audience and Arena officials never expected the event to live up to its name - the 'Black and Blue Concert.'

"But shortly after a bottle sailed out of the audience and struck (Black Sabbath) band member Geezer Butler on the head, The Blue Oyster Cult-Black Sabbath concert at the Arena Thursday night did just that . . .

"(Responding to the incident, Black Sabbath quit the stage after three songs.) Suddenly the crowd reared in anger and became a mob. At first, just a few people overturned a set of chairs, while others raised their fists and egged them on. . . . But within minutes, others started kicking their chairs and ripping out seat cushions. Then iron arm railings were pulled out and tables were toppled. . . .

"When objects started flying at the stage, then randomly around the Arena, some in the crowd started leaving. As they left, many overturned trash cans and smashed lights, windows and glass doors. . . . By the time police arrived in full riot gear about 11:40 p.m., the Arena's seating area was totally cleared."

Miraculously, the riot was captured on one of the most amazing concert bootlegs ever recorded... which you can hear if you know where to look or who to ask...

MOB RULES - 1982

I think it's safe to assume that the Milwaukee incident inspired the song 'The Mob Rules'; why it never became that city's official anthem is beyond me 'cause it's WAY better to air guitar to than the 'Laverne & Shirley Theme'. Anywho.....

Ten dollars and fifty cents!

I seem to remember Old Metal Rich and I got in line for this gig at least 10 hours before the doors opened; this was back in The Day when you did that at concerts. The Cow Palace was sold out, and by Noon several hundred people were behind us drinkin', smokin', and snortin'.. Once everyone was inside the general admission pushin', shovin', and punchin' was pretty rough down at the front of the stage.

During The Outlaws' set Hughie Thomasson caught a bottle with his face and the crowd cheered; this was back in The Day when you did that at concerts. He left the stage, but then came back to finish the set and the crowd cheered. Tough Sabbath crowd!

Black Sabbath > Circus
(Pic by Umlaut)

During the pushin', shovin', and punchin' a girl trying to get to the front bit my shoulder to get past me. It was medieval down there... When Sabbath hit the stage ('Neon Knights' > 'N.I.B.') the crowd surge was so intense I ended up moving back so I'd live to see my 19th birthday.. Once I did that, I flashed the Devil Horns when Dio prompted and didn't worry about my mortality for the rest of the night.

Merch purchased: Tour program and 3/4 sleeve 'Mob Rules' jersey.

Six months after this show Dio quit Sabbath.


The reunion we thought would never happen! This was my reaction to the show in Umlaut #7:

Black Sabbath / Exodus
Kaiser Auditorium, Oakland

Friday the 13th of Nov.

The lights went down and it was 1980 again: A couple of girls had their hair feathered! Geezer and Iommi are still gods, but Dio is still an elf. On the way back to the car some pimply-faced teenagers wearing Soundgarden shirts called me a fag. I kicked them in the nuts and shouted "If you listen to fools, The Mob rules!"

Despite having a cheesy title and cover art, Sabbath's Dehumanizer album had solid songs on it... Listen to 'Time Machine' or 'Computer God' and you will know what I say is true. The new songs sounded good next to the old classics in Oakland, and it was like a time warp seeing Dio with Sabbath again after 3,650 days!

Merch purchased: None.

It was raining and storming like crazy outside of the venue that night AND it was Friday the 13th (!), which in hindsight foreshadowed the show's aftermath: Right after this gig Dio quit Sabbath (again) and hasn't performed with them since.

[Trivia: The final 2 shows of the tour in L.A. featured an abbreviated set with Rob Halford on guest vocals. Ironically the shows were headlined by Ozzy solo (?!) and closed with a 4-song reunion set by the original Sabbath lineup.]

Dude, check this out:

'Neon Knights' from Oakland - 11/13/92

Here's to 2007 and hoping The Neon Knights really do ride again! I hope Dio brings the cape back.

"They say that life's a carousel,
Spinning fast you've got to ride it well.
The world is full of kings and queens,
Who blind your eyes then steal your dreams.
It's Heaven and Hell."