A brilliant guitarist, famous and well-known for his songs and performances with the band Dio; talks to me about his friendship with Ronnie, his career and achievements in music history. Currently, he is not only one of the Dio Disciples but also has a touring band called Resurrection Kings including Chas West of Bonham, Sean McNabb of Lynch Mob, and Vinny Appice also of Dio and Last in Line.
Dio Disciples may have changed their lineup but only slightly, the Dio players like always have been Craig Goldy, Scott Warren, Simon Wright, Vinny Appice, Rudy Sarzo, and more… band members like Tim Ripper Owens, Oni Logan, Joe Retta, and Bjorn Englen.
Hek82: Pleasure to have you! I’ve listened to your playing for many years and so I want to say a heartfelt “Thank You!” to Craig Goldy, who has done so much for us all by playing guitar with the band Dio and Dio Disciples through all of his incredible and timeless songs! Excellent guitarist.
Craig Goldy: Thanks, I appreciate that. We’ve spoken at times throughout the years and I just want to say that Dio the band, and Ronnie is still with us. It has always been run as a family and still is. You have always been a very loved and appreciated member of the family, so thank you!
Hek82: Thank you for your kind words. It is true, there is a wonderful community of people who are and have been supportive of the band and its members over the years and who have always loved Ronnie James Dio greatly. So many people that love the music so much and what Ronnie did for so many people in fact. Again, I want to express my gratitude that I am a part of that community. We have an event coming up which is Ride for Ronnie being held in Encino park with concerts by Dio Disciples, Great White, Lita Ford, Gabbie Rae, which will be delightful as always! Are you a Harley-Davidson rider?
Craig Goldy: No, I’m not.
Hek82: You could’ve fooled me I was certain you were a biker!
Craig Goldy: I’ve learned to avoid the risks of certain situations that were no- brainers. I mean, I was injured one time just a week prior to a performance so- not anymore.
Hek82: Me too, I’ve had injuries of that sort.
Craig Goldy: That said, all else is worth the risk of driving up there from San Diego because Ronnie was such a great man. I live in San Diego now where I grew up. I was able to afford not to live in LA… So it’s not for pay but it’s still a big deal. It’s that the band does have a reason why we’re doing it, because Ronnie was so loved all over the world and there is a reason why. First and foremost, he was one of a kind- nobody had a voice like him, nobody had the songwriting skills that he had, nobody had the mind that he had, nobody had the heart that he had, nobody had the passion and the visionary qualities that he had. A very special man on many different levels…
Hek82: A great talent too!
Craig Goldy: Huge.
Hek82: One of his talents was just drawing these wonderful people to him, like yourself. Musicians with talent, and he gave generously his time to folks. Although I didn’t know him in person, I wish I had the opportunity to meet him but I didn’t then.
Craig Goldy: There are those people that didn’t get a chance to meet him. But the most I can say is that if you love his music then you’ve met him. First and foremost, I was always a fan of his and I still am. Ronnie James Dio was and still is my favorite singer. He brought so many people through the hardest times in their lives. We would get letters from military personnel who were about to face some of the atrocities that many of our greatest have had to face on behalf for our freedom chose songs by Dio, Rainbow and Black Sabbath that Ronnie wrote and sang on as their means of support and their means of courage.
Hek82: Yes, absolutely.
Craig Goldy: Myself, I came from an abusive family and I lived on the streets at the age of 14, and Ronnie was the voice I turned to. He was so expressive with his voice. His way of songwriting called to the downtrodden and the black sheep of the globe, also he was so expressive with his voice that you could even hear the hurt, anger, intelligence, humor in his voice. So, the things that hurt Ronnie were also the things that hurt me, and the things that angered Ronnie was also the subject matter that angered me. So, I feel like I knew him even before I met him and he had that relationship with everybody all over the world. I can vouch for the fact that if you haven’t met him in person you still have if you’ve heard his music.
Hek82: Wow, his lyrics are very powerful and expressive. So, I understand the meaning of what you’re saying. He had very great messages in his songs.
Craig Goldy: That’s what opened up the door for he and I. I lived on the streets for a while, and with my last $20 that I had- I still had jobs and had figured out a way to live… a means of living like sleeping in a car. One of my ways of making money that I had found was giving guitar lessons. So with that last $20 I made a demo with a singer named Parramore McCarty who was in a band called Warrior, just before he joined. So he felt bad about leaving me behind and told me to give him some copies of my demo and he would hand them out. That band Warrior became friends with the band Rough Cutt. Sad to this day about the fact which was that was when Randy Rhoads died- how he was taken from us was a sad tragedy. Jake E. Lee from Rough Cutt took his place. He left the band to join Ozzy Osbourne, and that created the opening for the guitar spot in Rough Cutt. The drummer of Rough Cutt had taken my demo and given it to Ronnie. Ronnie said then, “We’ve got to get this kid, and get him up here!” But how to find a kid that lives in his car?
Hek82: What an incredible story.
Craig Goldy: I happened to be then in a house that had a phone. I had done a favor for a friend and he found me a couch to sleep on that I shared with a smelly dog, that I picked up after for sandwiches. But that house had a phone. Something had told Ronnie that “we’ve got to get this kid up here!” Ronnie and Wendy had rented guitar cables and equipment for me. Think about it, that was Los Angeles, all the bands around were well established with names for themselves, had their own equipment, and were at once ready for auditions. So, I get this message that Ronnie James Dio was going to be there at the auditions. It was basically up to the bands, who was going to be their guitar player, but for some reason RJD wanted to be there to meet me.
Craig Goldy: So, I had a chance to tell him what his music meant to me. I told him how I loved his lyrics, and I didn’t realize back then how people would say things because they had a hidden agenda. So I was just a pure- hearted fan with no hidden agenda. I think that’s what Ronnie liked about me, and that’s how he was too. I said- sometimes in your lyrics it’s like you’re saying one thing but you’re talking to two different people who are complete opposites to one another yet you have a dark sound but with a positive message. He grabbed my arm and said “Right, exactly!” It was kinda like we brought a code and could start really talking which we did and I would talk about the songs and tell him what I thought he was saying. Every time he said “Yeah, exactly!”. Now, picture it’s time for me now to do my audition, and as he listens to me auditioning for Rough Cutt he gets inspired and wants to sit in, now- he didn’t normally do that. We did Heaven and Hell, and Man on the Silver Mountain together. He came over to me and asked what the lyrics to the second verse were, “I’m the day, I’m the day, the lover of light!” ’cause he would file his lyrics away while he was writing material. Little did I know, that those two or three things forged a relationship that was going to last 30 years.
Craig Goldy: I know that I’m not every Dio fan’s favorite guitar player. He would have me at his house and we would hang out on the couch and watch old Rainbow videos. When it got late he would come out carrying a mattress, sheets, pillow and blankets to tuck me in like a father would his child, with headphones to listen to the Holy Diver recording.
Hek82: Wonderful to hear this incredible story from you. Just to back track a little, it was just prior to your meeting Ronnie that you had heard about the tragedy of the death of Randy Rhoads, which would’ve been 1982 that was actually the same year that the band Dio formed, because Ronnie had left Black Sabbath along with Vinny Appice, so the first album that you actually recorded was in 1987. You were actually replacing Vivian Campbell then in the band. A fascinating history in itself.
Craig Goldy: That’s because Ronnie was a man of his word. During the time that we recorded the demos for Rough Cutt, that meant that we worked together in the studio, and we wrote together. There were lots of late nights when it was just the two of us working, and Angelo Arcuri who was the big producer who did the first three records for Dio, also kind of learning together to be engineer and producer together too. They knew what they were doing, but they were also using the demo recordings that I did for Rough Cutt for their stuff. I noticed that they would use very unorthodox methods for recording just to get the sound that they wanted and they had created this team so when it was just he and I working together he would say- “Goldy, if Vivian ever doesn’t work out you will be my first choice.” That’s why there were no auditions, Vivian was out and I was in. So, we already had working relationship, he and I were friends and I had the same type of work ethic that he did. We wouldn’t stop and call it a day, nothing was finished until it was finished. Everybody else would get tired, and leave and go home and go to bed. Not me and Ronnie! Ha, Ha! Not until it was done. That means that if it was 3am and you had to get up at 6am the next day, it didn’t matter.
Hek82: Definitely a hard working team of musicians. Very admirable!
Craig Goldy: We liked to create. He wasn’t a rockstar, he was a musician. That’s the difference.
Hek82: A true icon! He also donned costumes, and put on a great stage show- with scenic back drops, and visually stunning artwork.
Craig Goldy: People might not think about it, but in doing that he basically cut his profit margin in half so that he could give that to his fans. What a gift to give for the fans. Well, they say he must’ve made a lot of money but he spent a lot for it, that was the cost of creating more for them.
Hek82: A true artist, and so many wanted to be a part of this world that he had created with his songs, and his band members. What an incredible show it always was.
Craig Goldy: It was both. It was an experience, and honest-to-goodness good musicianship played by great musicians and with all the experience of the lights and the lasers and the explosions and the special effects. It was everything. Compare to a movie with a lot of special effects where the story or the acting isn’t very good. What we want is everything great- that’s what Dio was.
Hek82: It was always stunning for the crowd- he was this powerful personage for them, it was like Heaven and Hell, and he was this leader for them of this fantasy.
Craig Goldy: He was a great leader.
Hek82: You were talking about working initially with Ronnie over the course of many years, which led to the first album that you recorded together in the year 2000 with Magica, and then Master of the Moon in 2004. Meanwhile, touring and touring.
Craig Goldy: Many people don’t know it but I actually did a lot of writing and almost had stepped in to record Killing the Dragon. Ronnie was very good about making sure that if you wrote something you got credit for it, but there were some occasions when something was missed and we said “Oh, well”. Ronnie and I co-wrote “Throw Away Children”, we co-wrote “Push” and “Rock-n-Roll”, and actually “Killing the Dragon”. So I didn’t get credit for “Killing the Dragon” which I wrote the Intro for, and it was my idea to use the intro as the beginning of the guitar section. Oftentimes, Ronnie would look at me and say, “Are you sure about this Goldy?” because my methods were also unorthodox. That’s a big long guitar solo, and there’s a big piece where it changes keys and does all sorts of stuff, and Doug Aldrich did an awesome job on it but it was kinda modeled after the solo I had already done. He took it to a whole different level, don’t get me wrong I mean there are things that Doug can do that even I can’t do. He is another great guy and he and I have a good relationship. So, he’ll say the same thing to me. He’ll call up and say-
“Dude, how do you do that Blackmore stuff, I can’t do that stuff like you do!” Same thing with Tracii G, hey- you know we’re like we get it, you do stuff that I can’t do! Never a hateful thing. Only one guy really did that and we all know him.
Hek82: Well, to hear you’re perspective and your take on that is very interesting. Those are some very well-known guitar players. To backtrack just a bit- the songs that you recorded with Dio are so popular and so well- known around the world, and have sold millions of records too. My point is, that you had a break from Dio and were actually picked up by Warner studios. You had quickly gained a lot of popularity and interest from many places. Did you do a lot of writing for Warner Bros?
Craig Goldy: Yes, it’s remained a mystery and one of these days I will tell people why I left. I remember what I did right and what I did wrong, and I remember what Ronnie did right or wrong. We had talked and come to terms with it and he invited me back to the band.
Hek82: You were replaced by whom?
Craig Goldy: I left and was replaced by Doug Aldrich and Rowan Robertson, so it’s not like I was fired.
Hek82: Great players too.
Craig Goldy: I never would try and take away anything from what they gave to that band, same thing with Tracii G, so these players along with Ronnie got into new things too. I was still learning. Those players had already come into themselves, as their own guitar players. I hadn’t fully blossomed, there were guys like George Lynch and Yngwie Malmsteen… you know when we did those Hear-n-Aid recordings for “Stars”, I was like “Man, these guys are miles ahead of me!” So it was a chance to really work on my craft.
Hek82: Was it like a desire that you had to really follow your own path as a guitar player and really become your own true artist…?
Craig Goldy: Headbangers Ball had recorded the entire Dream Evil concert we did, and after my guitar solo they did a voice over with Ronnie saying, “Craig is the newest member of the band and it’s been three years already, so I look forward to watching him progress and become the leader of his own band.” So, I wanted to develop the leadership qualities and of course I was with the best. He said to me once during rehearsal, you know I want to pass the torch onto you. And a friend of mine had exclaimed, “Wow, do you know what that means?”
Craig Goldy: He and Wendy were really great for showing me what went on behind closed doors, and how things worked, and how to turn an idea into a reality. One conversation at lunch turns into a contract. And that contract turns into an advance, which turns into a stage set, and that stage set turns into an award winning experience- you know.
Craig Goldy: So they showed me that I had it in me to also be a leader but I didn’t feel ready.
Hek82: I’ve met Wendy Dio too, and she has always been an admirable lady and a sophisticated person, and myself have been interested to learn what was it that they knew that made them so successful. The band and it’s members, and all the whole business.
Craig Goldy: Yes.
Hek82: I wanted to say too, because you mentioned the passing of the torch, and when we lost Ronnie to cancer in 2010- I’ve got to sayStand Up and Shout at RJDcancerfund.org is the name of the charitable organization that supports research and treatment, and it’s online. Wendy being a wonderful supporter of this fund as well as the whole Dio community with outstanding concert events for his memorial like the upcoming Ride for Ronnie at Encino park in LA. Dio Disciples and its members have changed just a little over the years, we had Rudy Sarzo on bass for a while and now we see Bjorn Englen more, you of course being one of the original members as well as Scott Warren on keyboards, Vinny Appice or Simon Wright on drums, on vocals was Tim Ripper Owens who is now making an appearance again but it has been Oni Logan and Joe Retta and they are all awesome.
Craig Goldy: The cool thing about the band is the reason behind it. I mean, Ripper for instance- was Ronnie’s chosen protege, so I remember Ronnie would be at the helm of a dinner, and would coordinate things around Tim. So, Wendy became his manager as a direct result of Wendy’s insistence on making Ripper his protege. They were friends like when we recorded Magica, and Master of the Moon, when Tim was in town Ronnie would shut down and they would sit down and talk for hours. So, when it came time to do Dio Disciples Tim was the obvious choice because not only were they friends but Ronnie had wanted to take him under his wing like he did for me. It has quieted down since Ronnie passed that people are not about cashing in. It’s really about keeping his music alive and so, our deal was to try to bring the fans in, and have like a memorial service in a concert setting which is what we’ve done.
Hek82: Everybody misses him.
Craig Goldy: Some people can find closure, but never will it be total because they will always miss him. So, it’s a way of all of us getting together for the same reason with the same hearts and minds as one another. When that happens, something special occurs and we never know just when but there’s always a time when the band and the audience connect, you see people singing to the sky, tears running down their cheeks, because they miss Ronnie and love him so. That’s what it’s all about, not how we look or the big speakers we can’t always set up at the park. We can sound massive at proper venues. So, that’s the reason it’s not about us it’s about him.
Hek82: Certainly. I’m not sure I mentioned how thankful we are to the players, like Bjorn Englen who stepped in for Rudy.
Craig Goldy: Bjorn is amazing, he’s been a friend of mine and a student too. He’s been closely knit with the Dio family. You know, Rudy was in the band and was highly respected by Ronnie, he just loved Rudy. Rudy and I had played together in a band before that.
Hek82: I didn’t know that.
Craig Goldy: Before I joined Dio I was in a band with Rudy Sarzo. He is amazing. Very close to the type of person and musician that Ronnie was. They had so much in common. This is a show that is not a money-making entity. It is just a show that we put on to keep Ronnie’s memory alive. So the members of this band were all friends of Dio all along, they either toured with us or were our friends in direct contact with Ron.
Hek82: We all share that feeling of the Dio community and family. I was there last year at the park and at Forest Lawn Memorial when they put the concerts on. Celebrating the music and honoring his memory together. Very nicely done.
Craig Goldy: Any money made at these events go to Ronnie’s cancer research fund.
Hek82: It is a charitable event and people do give a lot of their time to make it work.
Craig Goldy: Yes, Stand Up and Shout is a volunteer event, not a paid gig. When Dio Disciples goes out there might be an exchange of money but it is not a money-making venture. There are plane flights, rehearsals, travel… time and effort goes into it. Sometimes it’s only a week or a couple of days, but we might also have work elsewhere scheduled. It’s because we miss Ronnie, it’s not that we’re walking away with tens of thousands…
Hek82: A lot of people do understand that as well as show their support and appreciation of the charity and the band. I’ve got to mention your current band which is called Resurrection Kings, and I’m looking forward to seeing a performance. I know you just played San Diego.
Craig Goldy: Yes, and Las Vegas. Prior to that San Jose.
Hek82: You on guitar, Chas West on vocals, I’ve seen him performing Led Zeppelin songs several times and he is incredible, Sean McNabb on bass from Sons of Anarchy and Lynch Mob he is too cool, Vinny Appice on drums who is very actively out making music, (don’t pronounce the name wrong!) with his band Last in Line. We can listen to your new album that came out in Jan ’16.
Craig Goldy: I think it’s a great album, you know people think it’s gonna be a Dio album. The record company came to me and asked if I would be interested in doing an album with famous guys from the 80s to create an 80s sound, that’s all it was. I said “Sure, I’d love to!” As certain members came through others fell out, and so on but because I knew Chas and Sean and Vinny I was able to get them in the place of others, what had seemed to have fallen apart at the seams became much stronger and powerful in fact! So, me and Chas had written a song called “Livin’ Out Loud”, so that’s when I was contacted by Frontier song submissions. I told Chas “Hey, we have an opportunity to get our song out there,” and he said “Yeah, go for it!”
Craig Goldy: Frontiers loved it so much that at one point the band was going to be called Livin’ Out Loud. Nobody in the band really like the name, and Sean suggested the name of an old band of his called Resurrection Kings so we went for it.
Craig Goldy: So this album kinda came together and it was supposed to be based on the 80s sound. Not specifically Dio… there are elements, but what it was that I wanted to do they did give me the opportunity to do. There are elements of Whitesnake that are absolutely amazing, there are elements of Deep Purple that are absolutely amazing, there are elements of Rainbow that are amazing, there are elements of Journey and Foreigner. All of my favorite bands are mixed in to this album. I got to mix heavier Journey, Foreigner, Rainbow in the Joe Lynn Turner era, some bits and pieces as well as Dio.
Hek82: You are bringing to it so much, and the band members as well… one of a kind truly genuine creators.
Craig Goldy: Thank you, yeah that’s what it was. Frontiers was in charge of picking the songs which was unorthodox in itself because bands usually are in charge of song submissions. A true collaborative effort between record company, producer, and band. That’s why it worked so well. Not one person calling the shots, everybody checked their egos at the door, and there was just one objective, a new 80s based sound. A twist on what they miss, the rockstars the virtousos. One FB comment was “New Old School…” Ha!
Hek82: Ha! Well, it’s brand new! You’re so experienced that it is marvelous. Stupendous. That’s my opinion.
Craig Goldy: Well, thank you. I think it’s great and gave me the chance to paint and draw. When I was younger everybody thought I would become an artist. But when I tried to turn it into a job I saw I was really meant to be a musician. For the first time ever, I was able to do this on my own home recording stuff. So, I was painting with my guitar.
Hek82: I think me as well as many others can identify with that feeling.
Craig Goldy: There are times when there are 29 guitar tracks going on at once.
Hek82: Oh, my gosh- really?
Craig Goldy: Yes, I did that purposely for different textures, and what I call set changes. One minute you can picture, like music is supposed to make you see things and fell things. I didn’t want it to be one-dimensional or one-directional. Just when you think it’s going one place it’ll go somewhere else. We did that musically and i did it sonically with my guitar, there are certain places where I needed one texture and for another portion of the song another texture. It’s not so often I get the chance, but on this record I did! Maybe if some guitar tracks were taken away someone would notice…
Hek82: A master sculptor of sonic space!
Craig Goldy: Thanks! I got to stretch my wings, I’m really grateful for that. Now people are talking about the Craig Goldy of now and of the future instead of the past…
Hek82: Wow! I want to mention your website, it’s www.craiggoldy.com, and I think everybody should take a look because it’s really a fun page to read, with a very descriptive bio and story, mentions your gold record and work w/ Van Halen, and also features the book you have written called “Destiny’s Bridge”.
Craig Goldy: Thanks. Mainly in the spirit of helping musicians who want to earn a living at it because it’s not easy. The educated musician will have an advantage. It’s still a learn as you go program, which isn’t what doctors and lawyers do, they go to school first. I tried to do that at Musicians Institute and it didn’t work out. Some of my students are flourishing, like band Benedictum. One guy called and said “Hey, thanks to you I’m making $75,000 a year!”
Hek82: A very motivational, inspirational book like you are as a person. I’d love to take a look at it.
Craig Goldy: I’ll send you something!
Craig Goldy: I also have some songs that I wrote about Ronnie, and I’d love to have you listen.
Hek82: I can hardly wait. Always love to hear more… Thank you again! Very nice to hear from you and talk about what you’ve done.
Craig Goldy: Well, I’ve simply learned from the best! I’ve had the chance to walk side-by-side with some of the world’s best people and players and apply what I’ve learned. I can never take full credit for everything I’ve done because I believe in God, I think things happen for a reason and I’ve been given an opportunities for a reason. Ronnie did all kinds of things, built shelters, rescued animals, all kinds of charitable things in his life. Stand Up and Shout too.
Hek82: He is still with us in our hearts and minds, so many people all at once, it’s just out of this world!
Craig Goldy: I’ve tried to do my best with what I’ve been given and I feel very grateful to people who have fueled the fires to do more and make this world a better place. That’s what it’s all about!
Hek82: I agree. Thanks again and best of luck, I will surely see you at the concerts soon!
Craig Goldy: I appreciate it have a great night.