Tuesday, January 24, 2017

The Hall Of Heavy Metal History Makes An Auspicious Arrival

The Hall Of Heavy Metal History is based on big dreams. 

Pat Gesualdo dreams big. When he had his own disabilities as a youth, he unwittingly healed himself by retraining his brain synapses through learning how to play the drums, and in the process he discovered a wonderful holistic healing method of drum therapy, which led to him starting a fantastic organization called D.A.D. (Drums Against Disabilities) over twelve years ago.

Utilized by hospitals and health centers  in over fifteen countries around the world, Pat's breakthrough program helps children and adults with Autism, ADHD, Muscular Dystrophy, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Cerebral Palsy, and other disabilities to develop retention, coordination, social skill interaction, sensory integration, fine motor skill, and physical and cognitive function. Pat is also the only person in America who can certify drum therapists.

Not just a world class drummer and philanthropic organizer, Pat is also a huge fan of heavy music and the musicians who make it. Over the last year he conceived and organized the Hall Of Heavy Metal History, which had its first induction on January 18, 2017 at the Anaheim Expo Center during the world renowned NAMM Show. The show was expertly hosted by Eddie Trunk, a man who has done so much to support the genre.

Pat Gesualdo and myself, photo by Lauryn C. Mercer
The inductees for this inaugural year included legends both living and deceased, as is essential and fitting for a representative selection of heavy music heroes. 

Ronnie James Dio loomed on this evening as a man who had a tremendous influence on the genre and its proponents. It's also worth noting that all the proceeds for this evening's event were donated to the Ronnie James Dio Stand Up And Shout Cancer Fund. His induction was accepted by his widow, Wendy Dio, who spoke passionately about the man, his art, and her cause. 

Wendy Dio
Ronnie Dio also made it into one of the more fascinating, but lesser known stories of the evening, that of the formation of the fathers of power metal Manowar, whose founder, guitarist Ross "The Boss" Friedman, told the tale of how while on tour with the Dio fronted Black Sabbath. Ronnie explained to Ross that he was a big fan of the guitarist's, and insisted that Friedman connect with a member of Sabbath's road crew, one Joey DeMaio. Ross and Joey met, and then started jamming in Sabbath's dressing rooms, often drawing the attention of the band onstage when they heard the roar from backstage in between the band's songs. Friendships were forged, and the terrain of metal was forever changed by Dio's foresight. Friedman had the rapt audience at attention as he told this tale, and he rounded out his speech with grace and class by wishing his parents were alive to see this moment.
Ross "The Boss" Friedman
Legendary bassist Rudy Sarzo also delivered a most memorable speech as he ran through his extensive resum√©, and his work with such stalwarts as Quiet Riot, Whitesnake, Dio, and perhaps most poignantly as he spoke of his great friendship and musical partnership with the incomparable Randy Rhoads. A very moving speech by one of music's finest gentlemen. 

Eddie Trunk naturally proved to be more than up for the task as the evening's M.C., utilizing his vast knowledge and long history of relationships to make the evening run as smooth as silk from the pre-induction press conference to the induction ceremony itself.

Don Airey was another metal legend who moved the room with his warm remembrances of his time with Rhoads while in Ozzy Osborne's band, his experiences with the much missed Gary Moore, and his touching mention of Jon Lord, who Airey ultimately replaced in Deep Purple after Lords' retirement in 2002 before Mr. Lord's passing in 2012.

Don Airey and myself, photo by Lauryn C. Mercer
The other speech that proved unforgettable was that of current Scorpions' drummer, the great Mikkey Dee, who spoke with fond memories and great love and respect for his boss and mentor in the glorious Motorhead, Lemmy Kilminster, whose posthumous award was graciously accepted by manager Todd Singerman. Dee joined Motorhead in 1992, the same year Singerman became the band's manager, and their histories are forever entwined in the history of heavy metal.

Mikkey Dee
The evening's festivities would not have been complete without some live metal, and it was supplied in spades beginning with guitarist Ethan Brosh, who's been lighting up stages for the last few years opening shows for such metal mavens as Michael Schenker, Yngwie J. Malmsteen, and Jake E. Lee's Red Dragon Cartel, as well as a couple of smoking instrumental records (a third is in the works). Brosh and his band got the crowd fired up for the induction ceremony in high style.

After the inductions, the crowd was delighted by a thunderous set by the always dependable Dio Disciples, who had singers Joe Retta and Tim "Ripper" Owens paying brilliant tribute to Ronnie James Dio with power, passion, and precision. Craig Goldy did his usual great job of delivering the goods of whatever great Dio guitarist he is asked to emulate, while always throwing some of his own tasty chops in with the mix. Goldy is one of rock's great unsung players, and is as great a person as he is a guitarist.

Ross The Boss Band
Next up on the bandstand was the brand new Ross The Boss Band. This was only the fourth time this lineup has played together, but the way they manhandled a selection of Manowar classics you would have never known it. Fronted by newcomer Marc Lopes (Let Us Pray), who has the fiery pipes required to deliver the founders of power metal's vocal histrionics, the band is rounded out by super bassist Mike LePond (Symphony X, Mike LePond's Silent Assassins), and one of the finest drummers in the genre, Kenny "Rhino" Earl. This will be a band to watch as they have already booked many tour dates for 2017, and will be hitting the studio to produce new music.

All in all it was an auspicious arrival of what will certainly grow in action and prestige in the years to come as Pat Gesualdo continues to dream big, and make it real. There are big things in the works for the future of the Hall Of Heavy Metal History, and this is only the beginning of an institution that will reward and acknowledge those who have contributed to this thing we call heavy metal history.

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