Heavy metal legend and “devil horns” innovator Ronnie James Dio passed away more than five years ago of stomach cancer.
While the singer’s undeniable influence certainly lives on, one metal festival in Germany saw the singer’s charismatic presence take the stage once again last night.
As Rolling Stone reports, a group called Dio Disciples, made up of Dio’s former bandmates and friends, closed out the Wacken Open Air Festival.
After a set consisting of material from Dio’s time in Rainbow, Black Sabbath, Heaven & Hell and the late singer’s solo catalogue, the image of the man himself appeared on stage to sing 1984 rager “We Rock.”
“I cried the first time I saw it,” Wendy Dio, Ronnie’s widow, told RS about the hologram. “It was quite, quite scary. Our crew, when they first saw it at rehearsal, they were in tears. It’s absolutely amazing.”
Apparently, the project has been more than a year in the making, with the final result developed by Eyellusion, who shared photos of the Wacken performance on Instagram.
At Eyellusion, we are live music fans first. From the moment those first notes ring out, we’re hooked. And we never want the show to end. This weekend, we gave over 75,000 fans at Wacken a glimpse of our vision for how the music we all love can live on forever. When Ronnie James Dio appeared via hologram with his old Dio bandmates, all of the hard work the team and band have put in over the past few months was rewarded as soon as the fans gave their instant stamp of approval. Rock horns in the air, cheering that never seemed to end and a sing-along that sounded louder than thunder were all signs that we’ve tapped into something special. We can’t wait to share more as we officially launch tonight to bring a new live music experience to music fans around the world. Thank you for the support and we’ll see you on the road! #Eyellusion #DioHologram #Wacken #RedefiningTheLiveMusicExperience
A photo posted by Eyellusion (@eyellusionlive) on
The company used more than a thousand images and videos of the singer from his late-’80s heyday to create the hologram.
While the Dio performance isn’t the first hologram performance in front of a live audience, it was the first time a digital rendering has performed alongside a live band.
It looks as if it won’t be the last, either. By 2017, Eyellusion hopes to launch a full tour with the hologram fronting the Dio Disciples with a six-to-12 song set list.
Eyellusion CEO Jeff Pezzuti also discussed the possibility of bringing his hologram technology to current bands in order to broadcast performances to Eyellusion setups across the world.
Other previously planned hologram tours of dead performers include country legend Patsy Cline, as well as comedy innovators Andy Kaufman and Red Foxx.
Listen to performance audio from the Paste Cloud of the still-breathing Dio and his band performing “We Rock” in Philadelphia in 1984.