Dio replacement ready to be ‘world’s most hated singer’
Andrew Freeman is prepared to be regarded as “the world’s most hated singer” when he replaces Ronnie James Dio in a reunion of Dio’s original lineup.
Guitarist Vivian Campbell recently announced he’d jammed with keyboardist Claude Schell, bassist Jimmy Bain and drummer Vinny Appice, and it had gone so well they’d decided to work together again.
Now Schnell confirms they’ll perform under the name Last In Line, by way of a tribute to Dio, who died two years ago yesterday.
The keyboardist also reveals the reunion came about after Def Leppard axeman Campbell jammed with metal cabaret act Steel Panther.
Schnell tells MusicLegends: “Viv had done an impromptu play with Steel Panther and he was energised to the point of saying, ‘We should get together.’
“It was initially supposed to be a fun hang. It turned out to be more than just fun. As chance would have it, it actually sounded quite good.”
But the musicians shared a sombre moment when they jammed Dio classic Holy Diver. Schnell says: “The song starts with just the instruments alone. I think all of us had kind of a memory anticipation of the next thing we were going to hear being Ronnie’s voice. Other than the obvious and notable absence it sounded exactly as it sounded back in the day.
“On the one hand it felt great to be playing this great music again – but Ronnie being no longer with us to sing it became painfully obvious as we progressed through the session.”
Despite those emotions, Schnell says former Lynch Mob singer Freeman did a great job. “If he didn’t, I don’t believe we’d be pursuing the project with him,” the keyboardist explains. “His online comments about ‘preparing to be the world’s most hated singer’ notwithstanding, I think he’s going to do a ver credible and impressive job of covering this material.”
When Dio returned to Black Sabbath in 2006 the lineup called themselves Heaven and Hell after one of their albums, to distinguish what they were doing from Sabbath’s output. That’s a leading reason why the former Dio men came up with the name Last in Line – the band’s second album but the first to include a keyboardist in the band.
“It’s been getting a very good response,” says Schnell. “It’s a subtle nod to Ronnie. The first album on which we all played, me included, was The Last in Line. And I think it works better than Holy Diver does anyway.”