Birthed from a mutual desire to honor the memory of Ronnie James Dio and to play the music created in his legendary eponymous 80s metal outfit, Last in Line have become a full-fledged global metal attraction alongside the release of their third studio album Jericho this March
Comprised of original Dio bandmates and certified rock legends themselves Vivian Campbell (Def Leppard, ex-Thin Lizzy) and Vinny Appice (ex-Black Sabbath, Heaven & Hell, Kill Devil Hill) alongside vocalist Andrew Freeman (ex-Lynch Mob, Great White) and bassist Phil Soussan (ex-Ozzy Osbourne, Billy Idol), the supergroup carry on the tireless work ethic expected from all hands, with the consistent aim to give the listener a true, authentic feel of a live rock experience.
"We don't record with a click. We don't do the click thing and we don't sit there and cut and paste verses in or anything. We play the whole song and there's a couple of songs on it [Jericho] that we arrange on the fly," Appice shared in a sit-down with Metal Injection.
"I had to have big cue sheets. Andy would hold it up and point, first verse, middle eight, two bars, one bar, a riff. I hate doing it like that because it's not as natural for me, but some of them were that, a couple of them. But we always played together and since we've been doing so many gigs, we really play together well. So when we do it in the studio, we got that kind of natural live feel to it and energy, you know? So no click and no cut and paste and all that stuff. We played those things."
Last in Line's origins – while deeply rooted in the Holy Diver era of Dio – truly took shape in the immediate passing of Ronnie James Dio. Appice, Campbell and the late Jimmy Bain congregated to swap stories and jam in tribute when, upon adding mutual friend Andrew Freeman to the ensemble, the seeds of a full-fledged band were formed.
"We started this as a fun thing. One day, Viv called and said, 'Hey, I just spoke to Jimmy and I'm in town. You want to jam, get a rehearsal place?' I said sure. So we booked a rehearsal place and we played all the old Dio stuff and we had a good time. We were trying to remember the songs and Viv was trying to remember the solos. So it started that way and then it was so much fun we said, 'Let's do it again next week. I'll call my friend Andy. You know, I think he's in town. He's a great singer!" So he came down the next week and he blew everybody away. I'm like, 'Wow, this sounds great. Why don't we do some gigs? That would be fun!' So it started off like that, and then eventually we got a record deal.
"So here we are now from the Dio band, we've turned into a kind of an original band. And the hard thing was we had to work around Def Leppard's schedule. So when they go out, usually in the summer, we can't play in the summer, you know? It's kind of frustrating, but we got do what we got to do and we squeeze in between all that, go out and play."
Now, some 13 years after Ronnie's passing, reflecting on the contributions and ever-growing legacy of Dio, and Appice pauses to express just what the legendary figure meant to, not only he and his bandmates, but to legions of metal fans the world over.
"Well, first of all, it's the way he sings. You know, he sang from the heart. That's why he didn't want to sell out and do some pop song for the record company or anything like that. Everything Ronnie did was from his soul, from his heart. And you get that. People could feel that. And the other thing is, you know, in his life, he loved his music, and you could see that and feel that, too. And he loved his fans. He loved the fans. He loved what he was doing," Appice shared, impassioned.
"You know, he wasn't a guy to sit home with the wife and kids and all that. He had one kid years ago, but that was it. And then he wanted to play and he wanted to write, but if you met him, he would recognize you from when you met him last time. And he remembered your name. Unlike me, who forgets in five minutes. People get that. And everybody that had met Ronnie, they adored him, they loved him, and they miss him. So he was that personality."
Stay tuned for our 40th anniversary reflection with Appice on Dio's iconic debut album Holy Diver!