TIM 'RIPPER' OWENS: 'It Might Be Better To Watch A Hologram Of KISS Right Now Than Watch The Actual Band'

July 5, 2019

Tim "Ripper" Owens says that the recently completed North American leg of the "Dio Returns" tour changed a lot of people's opinions about the Ronnie James Dio hologram.

Dio died in 2010 at the age of 67 from stomach cancer. His hologram was created by a company called Eyellusion — with Ronnie's widow and manager Wendy Dio as part of the team — and made its debut at the Wacken Open Air festival in August 2016 in front of more than 75,000 fans.

"Dio Returns" 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 singers Owens and LYNCH MOB's Oni Logan.

After the tour's initial seven-date run was completed in December 2017, Ronnie's hologram underwent some changes before the launch of the first 2019 leg of the "Dio Returns", which kicked off on May 31 at the Barbara B. Mann Performing Arts Hall in Fort Myers, Florida and concluded on June 28 in Los Angeles, California.

Asked in a brand new interview with Rock Titan how the most recent "Dio Returns" leg went, Owens said (hear audio below): "It was great. It's funny, the difference of the hatred beforehand and then having people come to it and watching the show and seeing it and just seeing the difference of how it changed a lot of people, when they witnessed it. 'Cause it's a show — it's entertainment.

"We don't need a hologram to continue on Ronnie James Dio's legacy — Ronnie James Dio's music is his legacy, and you will always have that," he continued. "This is just something to go to a concert and go to a venue and experience a show and have fun with it. You don't have to have that, but his legacy continues.

"To me, I would love to see a David Bowie [hologram] show, because I didn't see him, and his career is likeRonnie James Dio that went so long. David Bowie kept reinventing himself as time went on, so I think it would be fantastic to watch Elvis [Presley] or watch David Bowie or watch a Lemmy hologram with Mikkey Dee and those guys. I think it would be fun. It's not replacing stuff — it's just a show, and to kind of go out and have some drinks."

According to Owens, fans can "definitely" expect to see more hologram tours in the future, "because we're all about technology… Everything moves forward," he explained. "When somebody dies in the movie industry, they make a digital person to finish the movie. This is what it's all about; this is how they move forward. And I don't think there's anything wrong with it. I mean, sometimes I think it might be better to watch a hologram of KISS right now than watch the actual band.

"STATIC-X goes out and they have a guy wear a mask of the singer who passed away, and I read these reviews, and people are, like, 'This thing is the most amazing thing ever. It's such a great idea,'" he said. "I'm, like, 'Dude, it's a guy standing there with a mask.' Or another thing — you watch tribute bands of Ronnie James Dio play all the time, and the guy tries to look like Ronnie, and that's fine. And it is fine to me — all these things are fine. I love music, and I love to celebrate it. But that's fine, but yet you do something like this… People just look at stuff to complain about. That's all it is — they just like to complain.

"I actually think it is what's gonna happen in the future," he added. "Technology moves forward, and it's gonna get better and better, and you're gonna go see shows like this… I'm certain there's a MOTÖRHEAD one in the works already, there's a Lemmy [hologram] in the works already, and I'm certain there's gonna be a David Bowie one. You just saw some other companies doing Roy Orbison and they're doing things like that… It's not the future of music, but it's the future of entertainment and another way for people to go out and have a night out and enjoy themselves."

The "Dio Returns" 17-song set consists of seven tunes sung by the Dio hologram — the rest feature Owens and Logan separately or together — and encompasses material from Dio's lengthy career, including his earlier days in RAINBOW and BLACK SABBATH.

Eyellusion recently signed with the Agency for the Performing Arts (APA),represented by agency partner Steve Martin.

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