2010 has turned out to be a big year for the Dio-era Black Sabbath. But not always for the right reasons.
With the deluxe reiussues of the band’s early 80s classics building on last year’s all-new Heaven & Hell studio album interest has sky rocketed.
And it’s little wonder promoters were falling over themselves to book Ronnie, Tony and co. in a bid to boost summer festival sales.
Here in the UK Black Sabbath MkII were inked in for Bloodstock and the brand new High Voltage festival in London’s Victoria Park.
And there was an understandable buzz about seeing the godfathers of second generation metal making their mark on the biggest stages.
But those dates were confirmed against the backdrop of Dio’s battle with cancer and the disease has yet to release its grip on the little man. Last week’s news that Heaven & Hell had shelved all of this summer’s touring plans didn’t come as a great surprise. But it did raise some serious and difficult questions.
As a cancer sufferer myself, and having lost close relatives to the disease, I wish Ronnie, his friends and family all the very best. It’s unpleasant, unfair and unforgiving.
It is also extremely serious. And while I applaud Dio and his camp for their optimism in planning a full itinerary for the latter part of 2010 it might always have been a step too far.
Confirming those festival dates suddenly appears ill-judged. And while it would be far easier to ignore the fact, due to the terrible circumstances, the decision to press ahead with plans to play this summer was far from fair to fans.
All of us will know someone who bought tickets to Bloodstock or High Voltage solely down to the Sabbs appearing on the bill. In fact it’s fair to say a few thousand will have been sold on the back of Ronnie and his mates.
Many adverts placed weeks ago are still promoting Heaven & Hell as key attractions. And it was only a week prior to the cancellation statement that High Voltage finally confirmed a Saturday slot for the band – sparking a fresh surge in sales.
Nobody could predict Dio would be diagnosed with cancer. By the same token, once the disease had been confirmed, nobody could predict how soon his recovery would begin.
And that’s the crux of a very delicate matter. For as along as there was a doubt about his short-term recovery anxious promoters, management and those closest to the band should have resisted the pressure to confirm dates for 2010.
Due to the reason behind the cancellations there’s no hint of anger towards Heaven & Hell – how could there be? But there is a huge sense of frustration stemming from the fact that fans were never really given the true picture and were even led to believe Dio missing this summer’s key dates was never an issue.
Surely it would have been better to keep any dates on the backburner with a view to rolling into action once the cancer had been kept at bay? It’s not as if promoters wouldn’t have found the Sabbs a last-minute big stage berth.
To book the dates first and ignore the worst-case scenario smacks of taking rock fans for granted. And it threatens to undermine the goodwill of music lovers the world over wishing Dio a full and speedy recovery.
Even in the most difficult of times the important decisions must be right. Deciding to sell Heaven & Hell as a touring entity in 2010 was simply wrong.