Renowned musician and producer Greg Armstrong has recently unveiled his latest project, "This Is Your Life 2023," a heartfelt homage to the iconic Ronnie James Dio in support of his charity, The Stand Up And Shout Foundation.
Inspired by the powerful 2022 documentary "DIO: Dreamers Never Die," Armstrong embarked on a journey to reimagine Ronnie's timeless 1996 composition "This Is Your Life." Despite Ronnie's unfortunate passing from stomach cancer a few years after the original song's release, its lyrics have proven to withstand the test of time.
Within its verses lies a prophetic message, urging listeners to embrace living in the present and appreciate the gift of being alive. Captivated by the beauty and authenticity of the song, Armstrong assembled a collective of exceptionally talented individuals to collaborate on a project, breathing new life into Ronnie's poetic ballad.
Armstrong enlisted a stellar lineup of musicians for the composition, including Todd Suchermann (Styx) on drums, Angus Clark (Trans-Siberian Orchestra) on guitar, Brian HBK (Hairball) on bass, Tommy Barbarella (Prince) on strings, and Matt Kirkwold (Majesties) providing mesmerizing guitar solos. The ballad begins with a laid-back drum pattern and a mesmerizing guitar melody, setting the stage for Robert Mason's (Warrant) soulful vocal performance. His rich vibratos and tone intertwine seamlessly with the melody, creating an exhilarating and emotional listening experience. The song's mixing and co-production were expertly handled by veteran producer and engineer Chuck Alkazian, who brought all the elements together by paying respect to the essence of Ronnie's original vocals. Their collective efforts result in an impressive outcome—a warm, electric, and passionate soundscape that is a beautiful tribute to the legendary artist.
For more information on The Stand Up And Shout Foundation, visit www.diocancerfund.org
Welcome to BuzzMusic Greg Armstrong. What struck you the most when watching “DIO: Dreamers Never Die,” and what inspired you to reimagine the original “This Is Your Life?"
The personal side of Ronnie, the heartfelt side. He was an entertainer. This is ALL entertainment. He got that. The imagery, the bombast, the stage persona. It came through in the documentary, his “real” side, and a little insight into the real relationships with some of the band members and Wendy. Loved that song…the way it was originally recorded…but What If? This was not made for a radio single, as not his typical fare. So rather than re-do one of his monsters hits (as has been done by many before), I chose this one. How much time did you and your team spend composing the arrangement of “This Is Your Life 2023?”
From start to finish, it was a 7-month project. How has your creative process evolved from when you first started producing music to now collaborating with multiple artists on a project?
Collaboration is an art in itself. As a producer, you need to give direction, know when to stand back, let the artists perform, and bring their “heart” into it. Sometimes…NIOT knowing someone really well can bring you to even greater heights, as it is just a human “musician” thing…you want to impress the “gang” you are working with, so you bring your A game. I’ve found that every time I collaborate with artists that don’t know each other (like this one)….as long as they are rock-solid players and have “big ears,”…it brings it to an even higher level. Collaboration has taught me how to be a better producer and a better musician. What aspects of Ronnie James Dio’s legacy do you believe make him an enduring figure in the music industry?
He has an iconic voice. The word icon gets thrown around a lot. But there are just a few the word is fitting for. Ronnie is one of those. He was one-of-a-kind. You hear his voice, and you know instantly who it is. That is his legacy, as he pioneered many ROCK voices, including Robert Mason, who sang on this. What do you hope listeners take away from “This Is Your Life 2023?"
The power of the lyric. The meaning of it. This is your NOW…do something with it. Take the chance; get outside of your box. In essence…dreamers never die. I think this version is more “single” orientated and perhaps polished up from the strictly piano and string version from 1996, and maybe it will open up some new ears and voices to Dio’s legacy. I’m a long-time fan, but it is my hope this inspires others to dig into his catalog and find out he did songs like this…his spectrum was great, although known for his Sabbath, Rainbow, and Dio hits….he was fairly prolific and wrote a lot of material over the years.