After the passing of legendary vocalist Ronnie James Dio to stomach cancer in 2010, a fund was established in his name by wife - Wendy Dio. The Ronnie James Dio Stand Up And Shout Cancer Fund has been successfully raising money to combat cancer ever since.
I had known that a Ronnie James Dio tribute CD was being planned behind the scenes with many of heavy metal's greatest musicians and vocalists involved. Names like Metallica, Scorpions, Motörhead, Rob Halford, Anthrax, Glenn Hughes and others were all signed on. The monies raised by the sales were to be donated to the fund to help fight cancer. So I was honored to be given the opportunity to create the art and packaging for this release.
I was asked by Wendy Dio to design and create a cover and package that would somehow distinguish itself as a tribute release but simultaneously show the bands that participated. I came up with the idea of a "Dio Army" charging into battle to help fight cancer... It's all fun and a bit tongue in cheek. Wendy loved the idea as did the Cancer Fund and Warner Bros. (Rhino Records) who would be distributing the CD.
I knew it was going to be a major challenge to paint all the heavy metal icons that I wanted in the piece and still meet the deadline but this was an opportunity to create something that's been part of my life since I was a kid... Ronnie James Dio and heavy metal. I sketched out the basic layout and then shot models in different action poses for reference. I then scoured the stock photo sites and found heads of each musician to match my poses. Not the most ideal situation but having each musician come to my studio for a photo shoot was not an option. These rough comps (their heads and my bodies) is what became the foundation for me to use as reference to paint from. I then painted all the musicians in the illustration - no photos were dropped in. This was a huge undertaking as every photo that I used for portrait reference in the painting had to be cleared by the photographers that shot them. Mary Kusnier of Niji Ent. reached out to all of them and they were nice enough to donate the use of their photos for this great cause.