What an honor it was to be a part of the public memorial for Ronnie James Dio on Sunday, May 30, at Forest Lawn Hollywood Hills. Thank you, Wendy Dio and Dan Padavona for including fans in the celebration of your husband's and father's life.
The public memorial was held the day after friends and family held a more intimate, private funeral.
My friend Karen Fogerty and I arrived around 10:30am to check things out in advance and I'm so glad we did because we were among the first 600+ fans there to get wristbands that secured seats inside the Hall of Liberty.Fans who did not get wristbands were accommodated with seating and outdoor screens that broadcast the services which included stories from Ronnie's longtime friends and colleagues about his passion for music, great sense of humor and generous nature. Photos and videos played on the stage above the screen, with Ronnie's red rose-drenched casket positioned front and center below the stage.
Music from his life was performed by Scott Warren (Heaven and Hell), John Payne (Asia), Joey Belladonna (Anthrax), Glenn Hughes (Deep Purple) Geoff Tate (Queensryche) and Paul Shortino (Quiet Riot).
Prior to the memorial, fans were allowed inside the reception area of the hall to take photos of flowers and displays honoring Ronnie, and to sign a banner. Everyone received memorial programs and a commemorative button. Photography was also allowed during the service, but not video recordings.
The Ronnie James Dio Stand Up and Shout Cancer Fund charity organization (which will educated the public on the importance of cancer screenings as well as fund screenings for the needy) was also officially launched this day. Fans were invited to make donations. T-shirts were given to anyone who made a contribution of $25 or more, with 100% of the proceeds going to the organization. Donate here.
Apparently few Westboros showed up outside the gates but were a non-issue.
Read more here: Fans Gather To Remember Ronnie James Dio, by Derrik J. Lang from the Associated Press.
Kudos to Forest Lawn for a job well done. Every aspect of the event was extremely well coordinated and ran smoothly from what I saw and experienced. (Here's a thought -- how about let's do same for Michael Jackson fans at the Glendale location on the first anniversary of his passing later this month?)
Rest in peace, Ronnie! The world has lost a great voice, and an even greater heart. Thank you for being you. ♥