Among the big music news yesterday was the announcement of Ronnie James Dio’s upcoming tour; newsworthy largely because the singer died of stomach cancer in 2010.
“Dio Returns” is an 80-plus stop world tour featuring a hologram of the late metal icon and Black Sabbath singer, backed by members of his old band. Yes, this is a legit world tour with a band fronted by a hologram. Several European dates have been announced and its is likely the tour will play the US next spring.
The news left radio station 105.1 the Blaze asking: “Would you pay to see a hologram perform?”
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This isn’t the first time a holographic performer has made news. A Tupac Shakur hologram (well, it wasn’t a real hologram) performed with a very real Snoop Dogg at Coachella in 2012. Cirque Du Soleil brought a holographic version of Michael Jackson to the stage, with the help of the King of Pop’s estate. Just last year, “The Voice” planned and then canceled, a Christina Aguilera duet with a holographic Whitney Houston.
It’s not the first time Dio (the hologram version) has performed, either. There is actually some interesting back story on the creation and technologic magic of the hologram, as reported in Rolling Stone. The Dio hologram debuted at Germany’s Wacken Open Air in 2016 and did the opening number at this year’s Pollstar Music Awards.
But this is a hologram, getting top billing on a major world tour.
If the technology holds and the tour is a success, one wonders how long it will be before holographic performers flood the market. Also, whether that would be such a bad thing.
In a way, this is a logical use of the technology and little different than seeing a really good tribute band. And who among us, those born after 1970 anyway, wouldn’t love the chance to see Jimi Hendrix, perform on stage. Or, Jim Morrison, with the Doors. As good as Adam Lambert may be, it’s tantalizing to think about a Queen reunion with Freddy Mercury. Imagine AC/DC ditching Axl Rose for a hologram of Bon Scott. Or a hologramed Beatles reunion.
The idea takes on extra relevance, with the recent deaths of Chris Cornell and Chester Bennington, and the relatively recent deaths of David Bowie and Prince and Leonard Cohen. All were massively mourned by fans and the jaded music critic can easily see the profit to be had in having virtual versions of these superstars, playing on in perpetuity.
Even if it lacks any soul (’cause it’s a hologram) and is totally creepy.