Vinny Appice: ‘When Ronnie James Dio Died, It Was Shocking’
Asked how the deaths of Ronnie James Dio and Jimmy Bain affected the way he approaches performing live nowadays, Vinny said: “I never really experienced band members actually dying, so when Ronnie died, it was shocking. It was, like, ‘Wow! Who knew this day was coming?’ So that was very shocking, and it seemed like everything fell apart. Like, ‘Now what’s gonna happen? What am I gonna do?’ Blah blah blah. But it has its way of working out. And time heals. And then the next thing you know, I’m still playing these songs with different people, because the songs are great and people wanna hear ’em, and I’m part of the songs. And so it worked out. And you just accept the fact that, well, Ronnie’s not gonna be singing this anymore, so there’s other people singing it. And nobody could sing it like Ronnie, obviously. ”
He continued: “When Jimmy died, that was another shocker. Jimmy played a certain way, and it was very English style, the sound. He wasn’t a technical bass player. He could plug into anything and sound good. We used to say he could plug into the microwave and play through that and it would sound good. That’s the way he was. He’d come down to the rehearsals and the guitar was all dirty and the strings hadn’t been changed in a month. He’d plug in and it’d sound like Jimmy. It was amazing. It was just the way he played and the sound that he got. So now I’m playing with the Last In Line, which started as the original DIO band, with Jimmy, and a different singer. The singer is Andy Freeman, and he’s just an amazing singer. And we did a record and stuff, and then Jimmy passed. So we did gigs with Jimmy, and then we had to take some time off. And then we got Phil Soussan, who played with Ozzy Osbourne, and Phil fits in really well. It’s a little different sound than Jimmy, and a different approach on some of the parts – I could hear it as a drummer – but we make it work. And it’s real close to what it should sound like, but it’ll never be Jimmy playing, ’cause he played it a certain way. It’s just like Led Zeppelin with Jason Bonham. It sounds like the drum parts, because he learned them. But it’s not John Bonham.”
Appice also talked about how his view of the people he is playing with has changed in the wake of the recent spate of musician deaths. He said: “Well, the way you look at that is you go, ‘You know what? I’m glad everybody’s here right now. One day we’re not gonna be here.’ You never know what can happen. And it’s great to know that, well, you know what? Right now, we’re playing. This is a great thing, and I’m gonna enjoy it. I’m gonna be happy to go on stage every night with these guys.
“As you get older, you start to think, ‘Well, shit…’ You start to think more, how much longer is everybody gonna be around? My brother Carmine is gonna turn 70. He doesn’t look it, and he doesn’t sound it – he plays his ass off. You go, ‘Shit.’ When he was 60, you go, ‘Okay, we could do this another ten years.’ But when he’s 70, he’s gonna be eighty years old in ten years. That’s gonna be too old to be jumping around like a crazy man, traveling and shit. But he’ll probably do it. Laughs So you just do it while you can and enjoy it.”
He added: “Gene Simmons said one time, it’s an honor to walk onto that stage. It should be an honor for everybody who plays to walk on that stage and not take it for granted.”
Appice rejoined his Black Sabbath band mates Ronnie James Dio, Geezer Butler and Tony Iommi in 2006 as Heaven & Hell, touring and releasing one studio album, “The Devil You Know”, before Dio’s death in 2010.