A technological development is always something to celebrate, even if the consequences can be dire.
To have even the whisper of Ronnie James Dio coming back from the dead, just for a moment, is the most ecstatic of romanticisms. His was a painful loss, not just for Metalheads around the world, but the world, itself. He was a talent beyond measure, a good man, and genuinely in all ways, a legend.
When stomach cancer took him away from us, we all died that day. So, to see “him” again for just one more moment, even in just a light show, gave us CPR and reanimated us in ways unimaginable. For that, the achievement was extraordinary and worth the celebration, indeed.
But, now what? The Wacken spectacle of Dio “onstage” was not just about Dio and we know it. The major news networks knew it, too. Have we just witnessed the resurrection of the dead or the death of resurrection?
Did we just see the end of original Metal once and for all?
The industry has been hard on bands and promoters alike since the last great technological development of the iPod. Since then, procuring music has been much less exclusive, less expensive (or even free), and the variety of choice widened for everyone a hundred-fold. For this, we all celebrated then, too.
But, as time went on, it also meant bands could no longer make a living doing what they love to do because the cost to record and tour greatly outweigh the income of selling (or giving away) a song or two. This places a ridiculous amount of dependency upon live shows to get food on the table, but the venues have been much less accommodating to taking risks. No longer have they been looking for “the next best thing” and trying to sell it. Now, they’re demanding, “How many fans can you bring in?” putting yet another pressure on the band to deliver.
So, came the waves of tribute bands: a sure thing, every time.
Nothing sells better than something that has already been sold. And now, not only can we resell the same product over and over and over with tribute bands, we can even resell dead legends.
Given a choice between witnessing a new artistic breakthrough and having the realized fantasy of seeing a lost hero one more time, which do you think the fans are going to choose? Which bet do you think the promoters are going to make?
If there is even a remote chance to see Dio, Cliff Burton, “Dimebag” Darrell, Clive Burr, and Randy Rhoads on the same stage together, do you really think anyone is going to give a shit about that new album some living band is trying to promote?
This tremendous achievement that we have witnessed is phenomenal. But, music, especially Metal, is the embodiment of life, itself. Now, it could be worth more dead than alive.
by T. Ray Verteramo