Rolling Stone covered Eyellusion’s launch and Dio hologram debut
Ronnie James Dio Hologram Debuts at German Metal Festival
Creators Eyellusion hope for hologram to tour with Dio Disciples following Wacken performance
The fervent Ronnie James Dio fans who gathered to watch a group of the late singer’s former bandmates close out Germany’s mega-sized heavy-metal festival Wacken Open Air Saturday night got a big surprise: a theatrical performance by Dio in hologram form. It bellowed “We Rock,” the singer’s gritty 1984 anthem and go-to encore song, and raised its hands in the singer’s trademark devil horns. But the company that created it hopes it will be the first of many shows.
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. When they tell Rolling Stone about what it took to get it to Wacken, from conception to the musicians’ choreography, they each marvel individually at what they created.
“I cried the first time I saw it,” says the singer’s widow, Wendy Dio, who oversees his legacy. “It was quite, quite scary. Our crew, when they first saw it at rehearsal, they were in tears. It’s absolutely amazing.”
Dio Disciples guitarist Craig Goldy, who joined Dio’s eponymous band in 1986 and was a member off and on for the next two decades, first saw the hologram at a band rehearsal. “It was very surreal,” he says. “I could see him – he was moving and singing – but I couldn’t touch him. It was surreal almost to have him here again.”
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.”