Interview with James Curl
My first introduction to hard rock and heavy metal really began in the late 1970s and early 80’s with bands like Led Zeppelin, AC/DC, Black Sabbath and Van Halen. As a youngster of about 12 years old I played Dungeons and Dragons and when MTV became popular I remember seeing Dio singing “Holy Diver” and “Mystery.” His music was all about medieval dragons and wizards, so of course my friends and I loved his videos and music. From then on I was a fan, but it wasn’t until years later, when I was older, that I realized how important and influential Ronnie was.
Do you have a big collection of Dio memorabilia and what would be your favourite album he performed on?
My Dio memorabilia consists of 3 concert tickets that I cherish and 3 albums that I have signed by Vivian Campbell, Vinny Appice and Rowan Robertson. You know, I go back and forth as to what Dio album is my favorite—either Holy Diveror Last in Line. If I had to choose, Holy Diverwould probably edge out Last in Line,but not by much. My honorable mentions would be Strange Highways, which I feel is an extremely underrated album.
Is this your first book?
Actually it’s my fourth book, and by far the most enjoyable one I have yet written. Writing this book was one of the best experiences of my life and I got interview so many great people—Claude Schnell, Rowan Robertson, Vivian Campbell and Tracy G. Everyone I spoke with was so helpful and kind. The best part was interviewing Ronnie’s early band mates, Dave Feinstein, Dick Bottoff, Tommy Rogers, and Doug Thaler. These guys knew things about Ronnie’s early life that no one knew.
Did you seek out publishers or did you always have the idea to produce it yourself?
I knew from the start that I wanted to self-publish. I went with a big publishing house for my first book (Jersey Joe Walcott: A Boxing Biography) and they did a great job, however they get 90% of my profits. With this book, even though it’s about a well-known person, I knew I wasn’t going to sell a ton of copies and make a bunch of money. So I decided to self-publish and keep as much of the profits for myself with the hopes of at least breaking even.
When did you start and how long did it take?
I began the project in November of 2016 and finished up in April of 2018, so 17 months total from start to finish.
Was there any one person that you really tried to get to participate/contribute that would not or could not?
There were several of Ronnie’s bandmates that I tried to get in touch with, but for whatever reasons they would not return my e-mails or messages. I really wanted to interview Vinny Appice and even approached him at a show, but when I e-mailed him he never got back to me. I also wanted to talk with Craig Goldy as well, but no matter how many times I asked he never responded.
How did you get all those great old photos of the early days of Ronnie?
Most of the photos came from people who participated. Ronnie’s hair dresser Joey Belfiore let me use a few. I also found some on different web sites that I had to pay to use.
Did you read and/or enjoy Martin Popoff’s book about Dio?
Yes, I did read and very much enjoyed Martin’s book. It was loaded with some great info. In fact I spoke with Martin and he allowed me to use some of the info he had gotten from interviews with Ronnie.
How has preliminary reception to the book been?
Reception of the book has been fantastic. Eight positive reviews on Amazon and several people have gotten back to me to say how much they enjoyed all the great stories.
Do you have plans to write another book?
Yes, I plan on writing another book centered on the 80’s hard rock and heavy metal scene that will include several different bands like, Dokken, Y&T, Great White and many more.
If there was one thing you wanted the people of the world to know about did, what would it be?
The one thing I would like everyone to know about Ronnie is his work with charities like Children of the Night. When I wrote the book I had no idea how involved Ronnie was with several charities—he really did care about people and animals. I thinks it important that Ronnie’s fans know how much he cared. His charity work is just as important as the incredible music that he created.
Do you have any last words for aspiring authors?
Writing for me has been one of the best things that ever happened in my life. Right from the start it has been an adventure that has only gotten better with each book. To other aspiring writers I would like to say, Just stick with it, you can do it. Find something your passionate about and go for it. It’s a lot of hard work, but the most important thing is to stick to your goal of getting the book done. A little bit of writing every day, even if you only do a few sentences or a paragraph is ok. Believe me, if I can do it anyone can. Prior to my first book I never wrote a thing. You just have to make up your mind be confidence and believe. And when all the hard work is done it’s all worth it.