The renowned drummer first played with Ronnie James Dio and his Heaven & Hell bandmates in a latter-day version of Black Sabbath. Here, Vinny Appice was asked about their first meeting together.
“I got a call from Paul Clark, Sabbath’s tour manager, telling me that they were looking for a new drummer. I was in L.A at the time so I went over to the Sunset Marquis and met with him. We were in the middle of our conversation when Tony Iommi came into the room. We hit it off immediately and started joking around with each other…
He then told me to meet him the next day at S.I.R. Studios to jam with him and the rest of the Black Sabbath guys.”
During that point in Vinny’s career, he had already played in Rick Derringer’s band and even led his own project called Axis. Regardless, his union with Black Sabbath was a huge step forward for the native Long Islander.
“I remember walking in and seeing Geezer Butler and Ronnie and feeling really intimidated. I was still pretty young at that point, and knowing that these guys I was about to play with already had done huge things definitely made me a bit nervous. But I didn’t let it get in the way of what I was supposed to do, so I hopped on the drums and we kicked ass together. We clicked and they asked me to join shortly after that.”
Now the “Appice version” of Black Sabbath ended up touring the already-released “Heaven & Hell’ album. But we all wanted to know if it was tough for him to fit into the band, personality-wise.
“It was obviously easier to get to know Ronnie since we were both New Yorkers. We also shared a lot of interests and the same sense of humor. At that point I hadn’t had that much contact with British people, so it took a bit longer to get to know Tony and Geezer. It took a little bit of time to learn their humor and expressions, but I finally did [chuckles].
“Tony loves playing practical jokes and winding people up and he did that to me – but it did break the ice, if you know what I mean? Geezer isn’t as out-going, but he definitely does have a dry sense of humor.”
Even after 10 years since Ronnie James Dio’s passing, Vinny still seemed a little shaken when asked how he was holding up and if he cared to share some things about their relationship most wouldn’t know.
“What hurts the most is when I think about the things we could be doing together, here and now, if Ronnie was still with us. Like I said, we had a lot of things in common. We both loved building things. I don’t know if people know this or not, but Ronnie loved going to Home Depot [hearty laugh].
“When ex Dio, AC/DC drummer Simon Wright lived at Ronnie’s house, they would build all kinds of cool shit together.”
Ronnie was a really special person and all I can do for him is continue playing the songs to keep the music alive. His music and his legacy will always live on and I miss him terribly.”
“Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler, and Ronnie Dio – you’re talking about three absolute legends right there. Even though I played with them on and off since 1980, there was still something very special about looking over and seeing them on stage with me. I feel lucky to have played with them.” – Vinny Appice