TESTAMENT guitarist Alex Skolnick says that he doesn't "believe in hologram shows."
Over the course of the past four years, former BLACK SABBATH and RAINBOW vocalist Ronnie James Dio, who died in 2010 at the age of 67, has been the subject of a touring show in which his three-dimensional representation is backed by members of his band DIO. Other musicians who have received the hologram treatment include iconic rocker Frank Zappa and hip-hop legend Tupac Shakur.
Alex, who toured with Ronnie on two separate occasions a decade and a half apart — in 1992 when Dio fronted BLACK SABBATH and again in 2008 when Ronnie was the singer of SABBATH offshoot band HEAVEN & HELL — offered his opinion on the Dio hologram after he paid tribute to the legendary vocalist earlier today on the tenth anniversary of Ronnie's death.
Asked by a fan on Twitter what his views are on the Dio hologram, Skolnick replied: "I don't believe in those hologram shows. It would be one thing if the artist was still alive, chose not to tour for whatever reason, gave his or her approval & maybe even had a hand in the process. But Dio had no say. Nor did Tupac. And no way can I picture Zappa approving." Skolnick also added a thumbs-down emoji as a way of voicing his disapproval.
The Dio hologram was created by a company called Eyellusion and made its debut at the Wacken Open Air festival in August 2016 in front of more than 75,000 fans.
The Dio hologram production uses audio of Ronnie's live performances from throughout his career, with the DIO 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 former JUDAS PRIEST singer Tim "Ripper" Owens and ex-LYNCH MOB frontman Oni Logan.
After the tour's initial seven-date run was completed in December 2017, Ronnie's hologram underwent some changes before embarking on the 2019 U.S. leg of "Dio Returns".
The "Dio Returns" 17-song set consisted of seven tunes sung by the Dio hologram — the rest featured Owens and Logan separately or together — and encompassed material from Dio's lengthy career, including his earlier days in RAINBOW and BLACK SABBATH.
In a brand new interview with Consequence Of Sound, Ronnie's widow, Wendy Dio — who is part of the Eyellusion team — said about the response to the Dio hologram: "We have two different things — we have people that are negative and we have people who are positive. And everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but I think they should see it before they pass judgement.
"The first one we did — which was in Europe — I was not happy with. We re-did another one that I was happy with, that we did about 19 dates in the States. It's the DIO band that played with Ronnie for the last 17 years — with Ronnie's voice taken from live shows. It's an experience — it's not just a hologram, it's a whole experience. There are all kinds of things going on — dragons and different things. It's a tribute to Ronnie. It's not a cash grab — because it has cost us over two million dollars — and we are in the midst of doing another one, which will cost even more money, which we were hoping to put out in September, but that probably won't happen now until next year [due to the coronavirus pandemic]. But yes, I would like to continue with it. I think it's something that is a tribute to Ronnie and it's for the fans that like to see Ronnie back up on stage, and for the people that never had seen Ronnie."