Joined: 26 Feb 2007
Location: Cleveland Ohio
|Posted: Fri May 21, 2010 4:47 am Post subject: Gone but not forgotten
As a child I was abandoned at three years old, put in abusive foster homes, only to be rescued by an abusive relative before eventually being returned to my unapologetic mother. To say the least I had, and still have certain emotional problems. I was shy and reserved, I had a hard time adjusting in many ways. As I grew into my teen years, these problems amplified with puberty. I was constantly looking for something in life to fill a void that I couldnít understand.
At the age of fourteen I heard the song Rainbow in the Dark, and found something that I never knew existed in me. I had always sang as a child, but never really had any direction, but with this one song a fire ignited in me that would eventually take me across the USA as a vocalist in my own right. I bought the album Last in Line, and then Holy Diver, then Heaven and HellÖ, I couldnít get enough. This music was speaking to me. It had substance and meaning, there were messages of hope, dreams, and a sense of belonging. Most Heavy Metal fans will tell you that there is a brotherhood when it comes to Metal, and that to be a Metal Fan is to be part of that brotherhood. No artist exemplified that more in his music than Ronnie James Dio.
In 1985, I was able to go see the Sacred Heart Tour. My friend and I went to the show early and stood outside the gate, while we were waiting a golf cart came rolling along with Ronnie being driven to the radio booth for an interview. I jumped up on the gate and started screaming Dio! As loud as I could. Ronnie heard me and smiled shooting me the horns. Later that night, when Ronnie hit the stage he ran straight towards me, and and started the show right in front of my third row seats. Although it was a great memory, that would be the closest I would ever get to the man. I saw him many more times, but it was that first show that hooked me in or life. The majesty of Ronnie on stage set my life in a direction for the first time.
I started singing, and dreaming of being a Rock N Roll vocalist. I learned every Ronnie song I could get my hands on, taking note of every little nuance in his voice, understanding that it was not just the magical lyrics, but the delivery of them as well that made them great. I also felt the emotion in the lyrics. I was once given an incredible compliment from a person everyone knows on this board, He said that when he heard me sing he felt I believed every word that sang. I learned that from the music of Ronnie. No faking, just be real. In my twenties I regularly performed Children of the Sea live, and to this day it is one of the hardest songs I have ever sung. The breathing and control it takes to pull it off gives me an instant headache, so I always had to do it as the last song of the night.
I had an incredible ride while trying to make it in the music business, but somewhere along the way I got caught up in the lifestyle that goes along with it, I lost those images of Ronnie and the example of life that he lead. I started believing in my own hype, and eventually became my own worst enemy. I overdosed on pills in 1994, and almost became just another statistic. I left the music business after that,short of my Rockstar goal, vowing to never return.
Many years later, through a series of events, I met a guitarist who has since passed on as well, and during one of our first encounters, he started playing Stand Up and Shout, and almost immediately I remembered why I loved music, and as I sang the song, I remembered my love for Ronnieís music, which set off a thirty song writing session over the next couple of years. I remembered what it was like to dream, I even started to write a Rock Opera (Curse of the Pharaoh) with Ronnie in mind for the part of my father the Pharaoh. I was inspired all over again, just like I was so many years ago. Then listening to the radio, I heard that once again, Ronnie was reuniting with Black Sabbath (Heaven and Hell) I wanted to know more about the reunion, so I started looking online and came across the Dio forum. I had never been part of a forum, but signed up, and started posting. I met all kinds of new people that loved Ronnieís music as much as I did, and we had wonderful conversations and debates about the meanings of the songs, all of which brought us closer to the man in some way.
Through the forum, I met the members of Nevermet, which was another dream realized in a small way by Ronnie. I donít know how much he knew about us, but I am convinced he did know that we existed. Early on in the project, I boldly asked Wendy to manage the group. I didnít really expect an answer, but she replied and said she was far too busy with managing Ronnie, and couldnít take on another group. A classy answer from a classy lady. Because of this I have always assumed that she may have told Ronnie we existed even if it was just in conversation. She may have said nothing and he may not have known, but I will choose to have my fantasy regardless.
I always expected that I would someday meet him, and have a wonderful conversation about how his music inspired me, but unfortunately that will never happen, Ronnie set an example that all of us can live by, if we only have the self discipline to try. Be true to who you are, donít get caught up in what others feel you should be, give everything you have to give, conduct yourself in a respectful manner, speak eloquently, and dare to dream of a better world where imagination and creativity are celebrated.
I will miss you Ronnie, but I will continue to be inspired by you.
Al Diamond Phillips
Check out Al Diamond Phillips/Nevermet on the web
http://www.reverbnation.com/nevermetI have sat back over the last several days, in shock and disbelief. On Sunday May 16th, 2010, the world changed. It not only changed for me, but countless others as the man who inspired us lost a battle we had all wished he didnít have to face. I never met this man, but he was as much a part of me as anything else in my life, or anyone I do actually know. To understand my love and respect for this man, I have to go back to the beginning.