By Andrew Catania
When I listened to the first Dream Child single released, it sent a chill down my spine. I thought I was listening to Ronnie James Dio. Dream Child is the nickname Ronnie gave to his longtime friend and guitarist Craig Goldy. Craig has told the story of living on the streets, listening to Dio, and five years later being on stage with him. Craig nor Ronnie came from wealthy backgrounds. Ronnie James Dio was principled in the fact that he’d cut his profit margin to give more back to his fans. This is virtually unheard of. Paid meet and greets? Ronnie would never charge his fans to meet him. He always made time for his fans out in the audience, by the bus and everywhere in-between. Aside from Ronnie and Y&T, I don’t know of other bands that are against paid meet and greets. Craig Goldy is carrying on Ronnie James Dio’s legacy. Craig, like Ronnie, would rather lose money and have an excellent reputation than having fans who can barely afford their rent paying to meet them. Aside Dio Disciples, Craig has a current project called Dream Child. Ronnie would be proud of the work Craig Goldy has done to preserve his legacy. Craig is still kicking ass after all of these years. I spoke with Craig at length about Dream Child, Dio, Dio Disciples, Vivian Campbell and future projects.
How’s the reaction to Dream Child so far?
CG: The reaction I’ve been seeing has been excellent. People seem to like Dream Child.
Every photo I’ve seen of you, you’re always so serious and never smile.
CG: If I see someone I recognize I’ll give a quick smile on stage. For the most part, with the storm going on in my mind I’m entirely into the music I’m playing. When I’m on stage, especially with the Dio Disciples, that music played such a huge part of my life. I’m sure everyone knows by now that I grew up in an abusive family and Dio was the music I turned to in times of trouble. Then, being able to work with Ronnie was a dream come true. Coming from the streets, living in a car after I ran away to get away from the beatings, hospital visits, surgery, stitches, and being onstage with my favorite singer then Ronnie and I became such close friends and was known as his right-hand man was a dream. I was destroyed when we lost Ronnie. When I’m onstage, it all comes back.
How did Dream Child get formed?
CG: It happened by mistake while I was on the phone with Serafino Perugino, the President of Frontiers Records. We were discussing a couple of projects I was involved with, and they were behind schedule. I was listening to Deep Purple and Rainbow, my two favorite bands. I was scrolling down and reading the comments on YouTube, and a lot of people were saying they don’t make music like this anymore. Serafino asked me, can I make music like that? I said yes. He asked me, can you get me Rudy Sarzo and Simon Wright?
Luckily for me, both of them were available and interested. He asked who would I write with. I said, Wayne Findlay. I love writing with Wayne. I also mentioned Jeff Pilson and Doogie White.
How did you get the inspiration for the lyrics?
CG: Some of the songs were co-written with Jeff Pilson, Doogie White, Chas West and Alessandro Del Vecchio. The rest of the songs I wrote the lyrics. I watched Ronnie, and he showed me his method of writing lyrics, this was an enormous help! I work in a very different way than some, and in many cases, these lyrics were “given” to me from the unseen realm. In other cases, I worked very hard while utilizing Ronnie’s method and expanding upon it
Who handled the lyrical duties?
CG: There was some collaboration and some I did myself. Like in a few of the Dio albums, I played some keyboards and like I did on the Eisley/Goldy album. I played a couple of keyboard solos, but only when I knew it would be cool because Wayne (Findlay) is a master!! Speaking of Wayne, he and I had a band together once before trying to do a similar type of musical mission, so we know we could write together. Diego did a fantastic job on this album. A lot of the melody lines and lyrics, as well as some phrasings, were changed for the better because of his talent! The band got writing credit for other reasons too, their performances! The performances on these songs heightened the overall impact of the song.
CG: Ronnie is always in my thoughts. I would often try and come up with something that he would’ve thought of but use an entirely different lyric pool. With Dream Child, there are no Rainbows, Dragons, Kings, and Queens. If there were, then I’d really get raked over the coals for nearly being a thief. I wanted to write about topics that were real, yet written about in an unusual way.
How did you find the singer Diego Valdez?
CG: About seven years ago, a friend of Diego’s sent me an MP3 of Diego covering a song of Ronnie’s. I listened to it and it was just chilling. It sounded like Ronnie had covered his own song. This was right around the time of Ronnie’s passing. I got ahold of Diego through his friend and told him I’d love to write an album with him one day. It was just too soon after Ronnie’s death to do anything. All of the stuff Ronnie did with Richie (Blackmore), Tony (Iommi), and Vivian (Campbell) and all of the guitar players including myself is my favorite type of music. I sent Serafino the MP3 of Diego and it had to be Diego on vocals. I kept in touch with him for the past sevens years and told him the day has come where he and I were going to do an album together.
With the different projects each band member is in, Are you going to have time to tour?
CG: We definitely want to do some touring because I received a phone call from Serofino saying, Craig, this is your band and I want to make it a successful one. We have to look for an opening in everyone’s schedule, particularly Rudy’s as he has another commitment and he’s a man of integrity. If he gives his word to a band, he’s touring with them for a certain amount of time he honors that. We have the wishes of Frontiers and also seems to match the wishes of the fans.
The only reason why we’re in so many different bands at once really comes down to people are able to steal our music off the internet. It’s difficult for musicians to put forth their best ideas and best efforts when their music will just be stolen. I understand the streaming thing. At the same time, it’s hurting us the musicians. The process of creating great music that will reach peoples hearts and pierce their soul and make them reach into their wallets and buy music is still the same.
I made a name for myself in the 80’s as a lot of guys did as a sideman. If I was an equal share member, say like Van Halen, I’d be a multi-millionaire and none of this would be a problem. I’m a firm believer in you build it and they will come philosophy. The way Ronnie treated his fans, I’m trying to keep that alive.
I’m not trying to be a multi-millionaire off the back of someone who can barely pay their rent.
I interviewed Vivian Campbell back in 2016 and he let his opinion be known about how bad he was treated in Dio, he should’ve been an equal partner with Ronnie and the Dio Disciples are a tribute band among other things.
CG: It’s just unfortunate because I was there from the very beginning. Even in the Holy Diver days, Ronnie and I were friends because I was working with him with the band. Rough Cutt. Vivian keeps trying to say that Ronnie broke a promise. Ronnie is a man of his word. It wasn’t a broken promise, it was a promise deferred. That’s a totally different thing. I was there. I remember when they first started, the truck showed up and there was no crew. Ronnie was there unloading gear and everybody else was just standing around. I’ve seen this so many times when something needed to be done and there was nobody there to do it. Ronnie and Wendy would do it, and I was just looking at them like, you know, they’re doing so many things that I thought were so beneath them, that it would hurt my heart so I would lend a hand, just because I couldn’t stand to see him do stuff, but they were building.
Little by little, there is a pecking order. When Blackmore left Deep Purple, it was his time to call the shots and Ronnie didn’t make very much money out of that. When Ozzy left Black Sabbath or whichever the case may be, it was Tony Iommi and the rest of the original members time to call the shots and get the market share to do what they thought was best for the band. When Ronnie formed Dio, it was his time to call the shots. Even though Blackmore and Iommi did what was best for the band, Ronnie turned around, did what was best for the fans. So he was bringing them 18-foot fire-breathing dragons with real fire come out of their mouth and lasers shoot out of its eyes and explosions would occur. He never hiked the prices up to make up the cost, that was his way of giving back to his fans.
Ronnie basically cut his profit margin in half and everybody wants to say, how much money Ronnie made, but they don’t discuss how much they spent here and they were onto something that some of the guys didn’t want to do. They weren’t on with that because that meant a cut of there pie would get smaller. They were honest about it.
Wendy and Ronnie’s hearts weren’t in it for the money. Jimmy Bain and I did some stuff together. Vinny Appice is a dear friend of mine and I like what Vivian did. The iconic sound, but people forget that everything that he did was under Ronnie’s guidance. Last in Line is nowhere near what they created in those first three albums. They were produced under Ronnie’s guidance. That’s what made them so great. Ronnie knew how to pull the best out of people.
When I joined Dio and I got my advance from the record company, all of a sudden, you know, people who shall rename nameless started asking to me with me because they wanted me to give them money. They felt that they deserved more money than what they got even though they didn’t do anything. Wendy and Ronnie told me I’d be crazy to give them any.
Vivian is a gentleman sometimes. He’s always been a gentleman to me. Vivian did come from money. A lot of guys who come from money are kind of spoiled.
Ronnie didn’t come from money. Let’s just call a spade a spade. Vivian is a great guitar player and he can be a gentleman. He can be a wonderful person, but you know, dear Lord, the only person I know that can hold 30-year-old grudges is my Mom.
Will Wendy Dio remaster the Stars soundtrack and release it?
CG: There’s a lot of things that she can do, but, there’s a lot of other people involved in the project. She knows what she’s doing. I believe that that will be one of the things that will be re-released, She knows how to make money, We just came off the Dio Disciples tour and we’re all out of pocket. It was never meant to be our main source of income. For me, each concert was a memorial service in the form of a rock concert. The quintessential Dio Disciples concert is when I was told to me, one of the guys happened to be a good friend of mine who was a DJ at a radio station in Texas. He was telling me telling me, dude, I was watching the crowd. Everybody was either singing along, smiling, crying or high fiving each other. It was like a big family reunion celebration, as soon as I would get offstage, I hurry to get offstage to get out there and talk to them. I’d be out on the floor with the fans, not stand by the merchant table or have a paid meet and greet. We never did paid meet in greets. We’d have meet and greets but never paid. That was something Ronnie was against. He loved just going out into the crowd.
Paid meet and greets are a source of income bands have to make seeing there’s no money in album sales.
CG: I still don’t want to make money in certain ways We need to keep that alive in my heart. That’s one of my ways of keeping his way alive that doesn’t die with them. I go out on the floor and we talked, and I see people in there crying and we’re hugging and talking. it’s been seven years and I still got tears in my eyes. It’s like a big family reunion because all of Ronnie’s fans were his friends and all of his friends were his family. So that makes us family. So with that heart, with that spirit in mind, you know, when people do come to the show, it’s just something you can’t capture on a little cell phone, it’s just something that has to be experienced with the big pumping PA and have actual band members on stage.
Then going out there and meeting them, hug them, shaking their hand and signing an autograph. Bringing them out of the heat and into the nice air conditioned sound check. If it’s freezing cold, bringing them into the nice warm sound check. The extra step that Ronnie would do for his fans. I’m still able to do stuff like that, so I feel like a representative of his legacy and the honor.
I wrote an article on the subject of meet and greets. At the end of the story, I ask, is your favorite band worth the money to meet.
CG: It’s really good that you did that. You’re stealing our music. So this is our way of trying to make money. But at the same time now are they doing the exact same thing? It’s almost like if you’re going to do that, we’re going to do this. I hate that.
You have some unreleased material with Ronnie. Are you going to release that at some point?
CG: Definitely! It was one of the proudest and saddest times in my life because at that time, Ronnie was still in Heaven and Hell and he was given a clean bill of health by his doctor.
So his doctor said, okay, you can do anything you want to do. One would think, okay, I’m going to go back on tour with Heaven and Hell, make as much money as I can because if those guys were back in the 20,000 seat arenas making money hand over fist I wouldn’t have blamed him. He told Wendy, you know what I want to? He said I want to write with Craig.
And so we started writing what was going to be the next Magica record. We only got as far as one song and the vocal bridge, he never got a chance to finish. So we’re going to pick someone special. Wendy let me write the lyrics and melody lines for that local bridge and so now we’re going to find the right person to finish the song. We’ll bring it into the studio and have real drums, bass, keyboards and guitar on it. There will be Ronnie’s voice. There are still some things that need to be done to it. Ronnie wrote this material about what was going on in his life at the time. So I tell people, it’ll be emotionally difficult to listen to, but at the same time, people are going to be like, this is definitely Ronnie.
What do your studio and live rig consist of?
CG: The studio is Pro-Tools on a PC. I use my ENGL Powerball head with a Jet City Amplification’s “Jettenuator.” It’s a power soak and a speaker emulator in one. Live, The ENGL Powerball head with one or two 4×12 cabinets and a footswitch to go from clean and dirty. In between tones, my ESP MII’s and a digital delay and chorus foot pedal. That’s it! The simpler, the better!
With the Dio Disciples, Dream Child and Resurrection Kings, do you have any other projects we’ll see this year or next?
CG: We got a record deal with BMG for the Dio Disciples for an original material album, which will be good. We’ve already kind of written some songs. Dream Child album will be released officially on September 14th and the Resurrection Kings. So there are three real, real high priority projects. I’d really like to do things that I believe in. Even though I’m hurting for money, I still don’t want to do anything that I don’t believe in just so I can get paid for it. Having a good reputation is better than having money in the bank.
For more information on Dream Child, please visit their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/DreamChildRock/
For more information on the Dio Disciples, please visit https://www.facebook.com/DioDisciples/
Stand up and Shout Cancer Fund at https://www.facebook.com/RJDSUASCF/
Official Dio at https://www.facebook.com/OfficialRonnieJamesDio/