Last week at Wacken Open Air, late Ronnie James Dio reunited with his bandmates via hologram. The surprise performance took place at the end of DIO DISCIPLES‘ set to close the world’s largest heavy metal festival. DIO DISCIPLES features members of the DIO band, which last performed with Ronnie in 2008 before he passed away two years later, leaving a void in the rock community.
The DIO hologram has been over a year in the making; it involved a team of people from across the music and tech industries working together to create a digital version of the frontman that could tour with DIO DISCIPLES, a band that formed to keep the singer’s music alive after his death of stomach cancer in 2010.
Jeff Pezzuti – the CEO of Eyellusion, the company that made the hologram – was first inspired to get into the business of music holograms after seeing a Michael Jackson hologram moonwalk on the Billboard Music Awards in May 2014. He felt he could do something that would focus more on the concert experience, rather than the spectacle. “As the music industry has changed, touring has become the primary revenue generator for artists,” he says. “When I started Eyellusion, I realized we should focus only on the live music market.”
He began meeting with managers who represented artists across genres and formed an instant connection with Wendy, who was immediately receptive. It worked out for him, too, since he says Dio was “probably my first choice” for an artist to work on. He’d seen Dio on the Sacred Heart tour in 1985, and, in his words, “I was never the same again.”
“I knew about the Tupac hologram and everything, but what appealed to me was that this would be the first time with a live band; Ronnie’s band. So that was exciting. I cried the first time I saw it. It was quite, quite scary,” Wendy says.
Fan-filmed video footage can be seen below.