High Voltage farewell to Ronnie James Dio

Midlands rock stars Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler and Glenn Hughes helped pay an emotional farewell to heavy metal legend Ronnie James Dio at the inaugural High Voltage classic rock festival in London.

High Voltage festival

Victoria Park, London

Concert review and photos by Ian Harvey

Midlands rock stars Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler and Glenn Hughes helped pay an emotional farewell to heavy metal legend Ronnie James Dio at the inaugural High Voltage classic rock festival in London.

Black Sabbath founder members Iommi and Butler, from Birmingham, were joined by Cannock-born Hughes as well as Norwegian singer Jorn Lande, in the tribute to Dio, the former Heaven and Hell, Black Sabbath and Rainbow singer.

Check out our High Voltage festival photo gallery to the right

Dio, who died from cancer in May, had been due to perform at the weekend event.

Heaven and Hell recruited Hughes and Lande to share Dio's vocal duties, in a tribute that was also intended to promote the Ronnie James Dio “Stand Up And Shout” cancer charity.

Dio's wife, Wendy, spoke movingly at the event. “My dear Ronnie so much wanted to be here,” she said in a faltering voice, as she urged fans to support the charity.

The band played a gloriously brutal set that culminated in Hughes and Lande trading lines in the final two numbers, Heaven and Hell and Neon Nights.

Moments after coming off stage, Hughes revealed exclusively to the Express & Star that there will be a tribute album, “with some mega stars”, to raise funds for the charity, as well as a major show in Los Angeles in March.

“Ronnie was more than a musician friend to me. He was a really good friend,” said Hughes.

“Tonight I got to sing the songs that I saw him write. I was around when he got the gig in Black Sabbath.

“It's been a very emotional week for us all. We're all grieving and we wanted to come here and celebrate his life . . . the majestical magic of Ronnie. He was a dear, dear man.”

The Midlands was also represented by Magnum and The Quireboys at the two-day festival.

Magnum, whose members come from Wolverhampton, Aldridge, Burntwood and Tamworth, took to the Prog stage on Sunday in a set which leaned heavily on their more recent material but which ended with the title track from their 1978 debut Kingdom of Madness.

The Quireboys started proceedings on the main stage on Sunday, their Geordie frontman Spike, who now lives in Wolverhampton, whipping up the crowd as the band got the day off to the perfect feelgood start.

Former member Guy Bailey, from Staffordshire, came on as a special guest as they launched into their hit 7 O'Clock.

Other bands appearing at the festival included Saturday night headliners ZZ Top and the reformed Emerson Lake and Palmer, who closed the event on Sunday.

There were also appearances by Foreigner, UFO, Marillion, Def Leppard's frontman Joe Elliott, Ian Hunter, Gary Moore, Saxon, Black Label Society, Down and Uriah Heep among many more.

Were you at High Voltage? What were your highlights? Let us know in the comment box below.

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Comments for: "High Voltage farewell to Ronnie James Dio"

Angela Walker

Clutch - not mentioned here - were excellent. They get better each time I see them. A fusion of blues and hard rock with Neil Fallon's uniquely strong melodic voice. Top show.

Joe Lewis

I agree completely. Clutch proved yet again that they're one of the finest and most underrated bands working today.

Down also showed that the blues is still very much alive and kicking ass. I couldn't help but feel their show was all the more poignant given that they hail from Louisiana- a place that has in recent history been blown completely away by a hurricane and now drowned in oil. When Phil Anselmo ended their set repeating the line "...there'll be no coming home" it came from somewhere deep, deep down. It was a moment that put every hair on the back of my neck on end. Amazing!


Clutch were brilliant. Band of the day. Well worth the 600 mile round trip.

Andy Baker

What a fantastic weekend! How on earth can they possibly top that next year ! We were blown away by the likes of Heaven & Hell, ZZ Top, Gary Moore, UFO, Wishbone Ash and Magnum. But the big surprise was how good Foreigner were - fantastic. And to top all that we witnessed the greatest living guitar player (seriously) -- Joe Bonamassa. The facilities at the festival were the best ive ever seen - free fresh drinking water (plus free ice at the bar if you asked nicely ). Hardly any queueing for food, bar, toilets. This is what has been needed for so long since the demise of the Monsters of Rock fest. Long live High Voltage !

Dick Hayward

A great weekend, as noted above, facilities were excellent. Transatlantic's penultimate track featured one of the best outros ever.

Focus,ELP,Uriah Heep all a joy to see. Only negative thought was that the prog and metal hammer stages really could have done with being a bit further apart, as some of the quieter, more lyrical prog moments could not compete with the sound carrying from the metal fraternity - a bit more distance next year please. Other than that, sound quality was generally very good.

tim yates

great line up, great facilities hot and sunny on saturday. must agree with Dick about the closeness of the hammer and prog rock stage.

I was right down the front for the heaven and hell set, I thought the band totally nailed it! ZZtop as excellent as ever, foreignor got the mood of the festival and really surprised me how good they were(i havent seen them for over 20 years), i was extemely disappointed with gary moore but thats festivals for you and what was going on at the end? did he over run his time?

saw the black spiders on hammerfall on the hammer stage and thought both delivered.Over all i had a great day. oh i dragged my 17year old son along too and he had a great time too

Katie Williams

My husband wanted to go to this festival and i hadn't really listened to any music from any of the bands playing. I've come away a huge fan of Foreigner and the quireboys (who i am now listening to at home as i write this). Magnum were great and the tribute to Ronnie James Dio bought a tear to my eye and a smile to my face because the music was great.

I loved it and am now a converted rock chick!!!

Well done to all x

Andy Smith

The weather behaved and made it a wondereful experience.

High point for me was the acoustic set The Strawbs did in the VIP tent. Glorious weather outside but Cousins, Cronk and Lambert brought us all back to reality with quite a dark set, featuring Ghosts, Autumn, The Hangman & the Papist and New World.

The Down & Outz set was more than worth all the travelling we had to do. Bloody marvellous, containing some real surprises. However, I'm gutted at the ridiculous situation that meant Ian Hunter's contributions were cut drastically short. 'High Voltage' management, hold your heads in shame. That was no way for your stage staff to treat an artist of Hunter's stature. Very shabby and unprofessional. Heads must roll. We know. We saw.

Bad planning too meant that the 'Raaagh!-Raaagh!' stage was pointing toward the prog stage. Many of the prog acts were drowned out. That's something that needs addressing in future.

Otherwise, great day.

Jeff Lattimore

Excellent event. Music great and varied, surley something for every rock fan.

I was there both days and have to say the facilities were easily the best ever seen at an outdoor London festival. Having been to shows for too many years to remember, it was very pleasing too see how well it was put together - send my congratulations to the organisers.


Went to this show on the saturday. Had a swell time, I was instantly brought down by the loss of one of the most influential singers in metal, and the fact that Heaven and Hell would not be playing. But my hopes were high again when I heard they would be playing a tribute set. Even though everyone was sadened by the loss of Dio, I still was amazed by Tony Iommi and Geezer Butler - Two guys from the first proper metal band - Black Sabbath! (Also one of my favourite bands). Then the day got even better when in the encore - Phil Anselmo (Pantera/Down) came on! I wanted to see Down on the sunday only for that one guy but couldn't, yet I was blown away when he came on! ZZ Top were brill, too. A great day, I'd go again!

Lee Farrow

It was a great weekend, really enjoyable. It was great to see the Prog stage so well attended as there were some great bands on there, the likes of Magnum and Marillion always deliver, as well as some very good up-and-coming Prog bands like The Reasoning and Touchstone. On the Metal Hammer stage it made a nice change to see young British rock bands given a chance to shine, Lethargy, Black Spiders and Orange Goblin were really good but, as others have said, the Metal stage was too close to the Prog stage.

The only complaint I would have was the lack of Real Ale. On both days the only bar with a queue was for the real ale and, once it had ran out the only choice was either fizzy lager or fizzy cider - not something a real ale fan would see as an option!


As has been said, a fantastic selection of bands for all tastes and very well organised. The ELP set was amazing with all the flourishes and fireworks (musically and actually!) that you would expect. One of the highlights for me was the Transatlantic set - and having Steve Hackett join them for the encore and playing Return of the Giant Hogweed! A truly memorable weekend!


Was great - I came from Germany and had a wonderful time, above all with Clutch, the

amazing Joe Bonamassa (who should have been given a lot more time on stage...) and the extraterrestric ELP...

more of that wanted!

Trevor Smith

I only made the Sunday, but thoroughly enjoyed slipping back 30-odd years to a time when I was a lot thinner and didn't get aching legs from standing up all day watching bands! I kept pretty much to the prog stage all afternoon, and I agree with all the other comments about sound-leakage from the shouty stage infiltrating into the quiter bits on the prog stage. As for the bands - Steve Hackett was awesome, although I felt the set was a bit short; Marillion were Ok but beset by technical issues during the set; Magnum were...well, I never did like Magnum; Argent were Ok but not to my taste, but Uriah Heep were magnificent! A storming set, with the added bonus of Mickey Moody hamming it up as 'The Unknown Guitar Player' on a couple of numbers. Superb! The biggest disappointment were ELP. I've been a major fan since 1972 but I'm afraid my heros have fallen off their pedestal; Carl can still play but why oh why the same drum solo and silly shirt-taking-off cheesyness? Greg's voice strated off a bit shakey but actually got better as he warmed up, but I'm afraid Keith's lost it. I saw Rick Wakeman play recently and he's still got the maestro's touch, but Keith's hand surgery problems have taken their toll and he can't play anywhere near as well as he used to. Time to step away from the stage gracefully chaps and call it a day after 30 glorious years (the last 10 don't count as glorious on Sunday's showing!)


Had a great weekend at High Voltage.

Highlights for me were Joe Bonamassa (a superb guitarist), Saxon (brilliant as ever), H&H (very moving), Bachman Turner, Touchstone, The Reasoning, Wishbone Ash, UFO and Focus who all put in great crowd pleasing sets.

The only major downs for me were the fact that the prog and metal stages were so close and the sound overlapped and the absolutely awful Down n Outz! How the hell were this band so high on the bill, Bonamassa had a much bigger crowd in the afternoon than this bunch of over inflated ego's!!!

Roll on HV2, but no pub style tribute acts next year please!!!