I just did the Toddcast Podcast, with a little help from Stevie Ray Vaughan, Ronnie James Dio, Gregg Allman, and Bruce Fairbairn

By Steve Newton I can’t believe I opened for Corey Hart today! Okay, it wasn’t like I warmed up the audience for the “Sunglasses at Night” guy on his Back from the ’80s Seeking Cash Tour or anything. But I did make my first-ever guest appearance on a podcast, so that’s pretty cool. Todd Hancock–the … Continue reading I just did the Toddcast Podcast, with a little help from Stevie Ray Vaughan, Ronnie James Dio, Gregg Allman, and Bruce Fairbairn

That time Ronnie James Dio told me what he really thinks of Ritchie Blackmore and Yngwie Malmsteen

By Steve Newton Last year I posted an audio clip from my 1985 interview with Ronnie James Dio in which he kindly offered me backstage passes to a show in Vancouver on the Sacred Heart Tour. Here’s another excerpt from that conversation in which the legendary heavy-metal crooner compares the guitar-playing abilities of his former bandmate Ritchie … Continue reading That time Ronnie James Dio told me what he really thinks of Ritchie Blackmore and Yngwie Malmsteen

That time I asked Tony Iommi how Ronnie James Dio compared to Ozzy Osbourne in Black Sabbath

  By Steve Newton Since time immemorial–or at least since Dio replaced Ozzy in Sabbath back in ’79–armchair rock critics have debated the merits of the two singers. It’s hard to complain about anything Ozzy did with the band up until the awesome Sabbath, Bloody Sabbath album of 1973; then again, after three spotty LPs, … Continue reading That time I asked Tony Iommi how Ronnie James Dio compared to Ozzy Osbourne in Black Sabbath

That time I asked Tony Iommi about Ronnie James Dio replacing Ozzy Osbourne in Black Sabbath

By Steve Newton In the past I’ve had fun posting audio excerpts from my first interview with legendary Black Sabbath guitarist Tony Iommi, which took place in 1984, during the group’s misguided Born Again phase. Fast-forward 23 years and I got Iommi on the phone again, this time to talk about the Heaven and Hell … Continue reading That time I asked Tony Iommi about Ronnie James Dio replacing Ozzy Osbourne in Black Sabbath

That time I asked Ronnie James Dio about stepping into Ozzy Osbourne’s shoes in Black Sabbath

By Steve Newton There’s no denying that Ronnie James Dio did an incredible job replacing Ozzy Osbourne as the singer in Black Sabbath. The moment I heard “Neon Nights”, the opening track on Dio’s first Sabbath album, Heaven and Hell, I knew the heavy-metal stars had aligned. The music had way more power and feel than … Continue reading That time I asked Ronnie James Dio about stepping into Ozzy Osbourne’s shoes in Black Sabbath

That time Ronnie James Dio told me a fib about Priest and Maiden contributing songs to Hear ‘n Aid

By Steve Newton Tomorrow (May 21) the Ride For Ronnie motorcycle ride and concert takes place in L.A., raising money for the Ronnie James Dio Stand Up and Shout Cancer Fund. Coincidentally, exactly 31 years ago tomorrow the charity project Dio spearheaded, Hear ‘n Aid, finished recording its video/single “Stars” at A&M Studios in Tinseltown. … Continue reading That time Ronnie James Dio told me a fib about Priest and Maiden contributing songs to Hear ‘n Aid

That time Ronnie James Dio told me about the entity that tried to kill his wife during the recording of Rainbow’s Long Live Rock and Roll

By Steve Newton In celebration of the 40th anniversary of Rainbow Rising–one of the greatest metal albums of all time–I’ve been posting blogs with soundbites from interviews I did with former Rainbow members Ronnie James Dio (in 1985) and Tony Carey (in ’84). The first one I did on Carey last Tuesday did not go over well … Continue reading That time Ronnie James Dio told me about the entity that tried to kill his wife during the recording of Rainbow’s Long Live Rock and Roll

That time Ronnie James Dio got me backstage on the Sacred Heart Tour

By Steve Newton Ronnie James Dio passed away six years ago today, so in memoriam I thought I’d post this audio excerpt from the interview I did with him back in December of 1985. The metal legend, 43 at the time, was headed to Vancouver for a show on his Sacred Heart tour, with opening act … Continue reading That time Ronnie James Dio got me backstage on the Sacred Heart Tour

Ronnie James Dio: the Lost Interview of 1985, an Ear of Newt exclusive

By Steve Newton On December 20, 1985, Ronnie James Dio called me up at home and we chatted for 20 minutes or so. How cool was that? The legendary heavy-metal artist was doing press promoting his Sacred Heart tour, which was scheduled to play Vancouver’s Pacific Coliseum on December 28, with guest Yngwie Malmsteen. We talked … Continue reading Ronnie James Dio: the Lost Interview of 1985, an Ear of Newt exclusive

Metal legend Ronnie James Dio dead at 67

ORIGINALLY POSTED ON STRAIGHT.COM, MAY 16, 2010 Heavy metal vocalist Ronnie James Dio, best known for his work with Rainbow and Black Sabbath, passed away today at the age of 67. He had been battling stomach cancer. His wife Wendy posted the following message on his web site. “Today my heart is broken, Ronnie passed … Continue reading Metal legend Ronnie James Dio dead at 67

That time Golden Earring frontman Barry Hay told me about touring with Lynyrd Skynyrd and getting beaten up with Ronnie Van Zandt

By Steve Newton It’s amazing what a person can find when they listen to old interviews they recorded on cassette back in 1984. Like that time I was chatting with Golden Earring vocalist and cosongwriter Barry Hay and asked him about touring with Lynyrd Skynyrd back in the seventies. Have a listen:   To hear … Continue reading That time Golden Earring frontman Barry Hay told me about touring with Lynyrd Skynyrd and getting beaten up with Ronnie Van Zandt

That time Stevie Ray Vaughan told me how much he liked Colin James

By Steve Newton When I interviewed Stevie Ray Vaughan in July of 1990, six weeks before his death, I asked him what he’d been listening to in his spare time–if he had any. “Well I really haven’t had time to look up!,” he declared, before adding that he’d been mostly paying attention to the record … Continue reading That time Stevie Ray Vaughan told me how much he liked Colin James

That time 23-year-old James Hetfield told me that Metallica’s new bassist was “fairly goofy”

By Steve Newton Back in 1986 I interviewed Metallica’s James Hetfield in his messy Vancouver hotel room. The band had just hired Jason Newsted, who had beaten out a barrage of hopefuls for the prized role of bassist, taking over from the deceased Cliff Burton. At one point Hetfield explained how Metallica had found Newsted, how … Continue reading That time 23-year-old James Hetfield told me that Metallica’s new bassist was “fairly goofy”

That time I asked Metallica’s 23-year-old James Hetfield who his fave metal bands were

By Steve Newton Back in 1986 I met James Hetfield in his hotel room in Vancouver, and we talked for a bit about heavy metal, the death of Cliff Burton, new bassist Jason Newsted, and Metallica’s latest album, Master of Puppets. I’m not sure which day in ’86 the interview happened, but it was sometime … Continue reading That time I asked Metallica’s 23-year-old James Hetfield who his fave metal bands were

That time I tried telling Albert King that Elmore James was his biggest influence

By Steve Newton When I look back over my 39-year career in music journalism, there are some folks that I’m really, really glad I got to talk to. Like Albert King. Of the three big Kings–sorry B.B. and Freddie–I think I appreciate Albert the most. There was something about the way he could wring deep, … Continue reading That time I tried telling Albert King that Elmore James was his biggest influence

Vancouver rockers, radio hosts, and record-store owners reflect on the power of Black Sabbath

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, JULY 15, 1999 By Steve Newton Because of its brutal sound and satanic overtones, Black Sabbath was never as widely accepted as the Beatles or the Stones, but its influence among rock fans is incredibly far-reaching. We asked a few local hard-rock aficionados and musicians to divulge their fondest … Continue reading Vancouver rockers, radio hosts, and record-store owners reflect on the power of Black Sabbath

Dio brings medieval fantasy and better-than-Ozzy vocals to Vancouver, Yngwie just shows off

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, JAN. 3, 1986 By Steve Newton Heavy metal veteran Ronnie James Dio played his own game of Dungeons & Dragons at the Pacific Coliseum last Saturday (December 28)–and 5,000 or so of his young fans came out winners. The show started when curtains surrounding the stage were pulled to … Continue reading Dio brings medieval fantasy and better-than-Ozzy vocals to Vancouver, Yngwie just shows off

James Cotton on blowing harp for Muddy Waters at Newport Jazz Festival

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, MARCH 7, 2002 By Steve Newton Throughout the classic 1960 blues album Muddy Waters at Newport—which fans of the late legend should note was recently released on CD in remastered form, with bonus studio tracks—a young James Cotton can be heard blowing some serious harp at the Newport Jazz … Continue reading James Cotton on blowing harp for Muddy Waters at Newport Jazz Festival

Dio-era Rules of Hell box proves Sabbath thrived after Ozzy

ORIGINALLY POSTED ON STRAIGHT.COM, DEC. 3, 2008 By Steve Newton Just as there are many who feel that Van Halen turned to crap when David Lee Roth left the fold, there are scads of metalheads who believe that Black Sabbath wasn’t worth shite without Ozzy Osbourne at the mike. Screw them. There’s no denying that … Continue reading Dio-era Rules of Hell box proves Sabbath thrived after Ozzy

That time I asked Joe Satriani who his best guitar student was and he said Steve Vai caught on the quickest

By Steve Newton Back in January of 1990 I did the first of my seven interviews with Joe Satriani. At the time he was touring behind his latest album, Flying in a Blue Dream, and the buzz about him was growing fast. People were learning that he’d spent several years as a guitar instructor, teaching … Continue reading That time I asked Joe Satriani who his best guitar student was and he said Steve Vai caught on the quickest

That time I called up 22-year-old Jeff Healey and asked him about his role in the upcoming bouncer flick Roadhouse

By Steve Newton I was fortunate enough to have interviewed Canadian guitar wizard Jeff Healey three times. Man could that guy wail on the Strat! The first interview took place in June of 1988, when he was just 22, and still three months away from releasing his incredible debut album, See the Light. When I … Continue reading That time I called up 22-year-old Jeff Healey and asked him about his role in the upcoming bouncer flick Roadhouse

That time Richie Sambora told me why Bon Jovi switched producers from Bruce Fairbairn to Bob Rock

By Steve Newton Bon Jovi may have been hugely popular back in the day, but I actually enjoyed guitarist Richie Sambora’s solo debut album, Stranger in This Town, more than any Bon Jovi band release. I even preferred Sambora’s lead vocals over Jon Bon Jovi’s, especially on solo tunes like “Ballad of Youth”. So it … Continue reading That time Richie Sambora told me why Bon Jovi switched producers from Bruce Fairbairn to Bob Rock

That time 18-year-old Kenny Wayne Shepherd told me about meeting his idol Stevie Ray Vaughan

By Steve Newton I’ve interviewed Kenny Wayne Shepherd four times, ’cause I’m a sucker for folks who can play the shit out of a Strat. The first time was back in December of 1995, when he was only 18 and touring behind his platinum-selling debut album, Ledbetter Heights. At one point in the conversation I … Continue reading That time 18-year-old Kenny Wayne Shepherd told me about meeting his idol Stevie Ray Vaughan

That time I asked Justin Hayward if he knew the Moody Blues’ “Nights in White Satin” was special as soon as it came to him

By Steve Newton As April Wine once said, “I Like to Rock”. I like to rock as well, but once in a while a beautiful, gentle ballad is, as Ted Nugent once said, “Just What the Doctor Ordered”. But enough about April Wine and Ted Nugent. This little blog’s about a softer-rockin’, more prog-oriented band … Continue reading That time I asked Justin Hayward if he knew the Moody Blues’ “Nights in White Satin” was special as soon as it came to him

That time I asked Elliot Easton if he felt like a mercenary playing John Fogerty’s licks in Creedence Clearwater Revisited

By Steve Newton I’ve long felt that John Fogerty was the biggest triple-threat in rock: as a songwriter, singer, and guitarist, few can match him. I’ve also always hated how, for years after the breakup of Creedence Clearwater Revival, Fogerty couldn’t even perform the incredible CCR songs he’d written, for legal reasons. The old CCR … Continue reading That time I asked Elliot Easton if he felt like a mercenary playing John Fogerty’s licks in Creedence Clearwater Revisited

That time Wayne Kramer told me about the MC5’s political consciousness in the ’60s

By Steve Newton I missed out on the MC5 when they were a major musical force on the American counterculture scene in the late ’60s. And it’s not just ’cause I’m Canadian. I was only 11 when their groundbreaking Kick Out the Jams debut album came out, and at that point all I listened to … Continue reading That time Wayne Kramer told me about the MC5’s political consciousness in the ’60s

That time Joe Satriani told me how his mind works when he’s playing wicked guitar on stage

By Steve Newton Some guitarists learn how to play by ear, and others–like Joe Satriani–learn how to play by the book. Satch knows music theory better than most, so when I did my first interview with him back in 1990–just after the release of Flying in a Blue Dream–I asked him how that relates to … Continue reading That time Joe Satriani told me how his mind works when he’s playing wicked guitar on stage