- Ronnie Dio's Early Years

The Elves - Part I
by Jim Tansley

The hum and crackle of the largest P.A. I had ever seen filled the air. This "buzz" could only mean one thing --the show was about to start! The stacks of Sunn amplifiers and Marshall amplifiers lined the back of the stage forming a dense wall with the red power on lamps visible on the darkened stage.

The front of the stage was lined from left to right with a black Gretsch drum set very close to the edge of the stage; next to the drums were all the footpedals and special effects for the lead guitarist; front and center was the spot for the bass player/ lead vocalist; next to him was the gear for the rhythm guitarist/lead vocalist and finally, the keyboards were set up on the right of the stage. The huge P.A equipment was piled up on each side of the stage like small skyscrapers. This stage arrangement was the most unique set up I had ever seen because the drums were positioned along side of the band instead of behind the band like all the other bands I had seen.

At the foot of the stage, in front of the vocal microphones, were rows of multicolored spotlights facing up towards the band ready to reveal the band once the music started. The roadies were no longer scurrying around in the dark taping down all the P.A snakes, cords and electrical wires. Meanwhile, the crowd was getting restless.

There was some movement on stage---someone sat down at the drums -- I heard the click of the hi-hat cymbals and the electric rush of guitars being plugged in. Suddenly I heard the roar of screeching guitar feedback --- loud feedback! It was the opening to the song " Hot Smoke and Sasafrass "by The Bubble Puppy (1969).

With an explosion of lights and sound ,there on stage, were The Elves---drummer Gary Driscoll, lead guitarist David "Rock" Feinstein, bass guitarist and lead vocalist Ronald Padavona (Ronnie James Dio), rhythm guitarist and lead vocalist Doug Thaler and keyboard player Mickey Lee Soule.

The 5 note staccato drum fill by Gary (1e&a 2) seemed to trigger the white strobe light which gave the band a stop and go effect during parts of the song. The spotlights were an integral part of their show -- changing colors as the band played the changes of the song. One minute the Elves were bathed in a blue light --the next minute-- purple, red, orange, green or yellow. They were, with out a doubt, the loudest band I had ever seen. The way they all moved up to the mics to sing (with the exception of the drummer) at the same time gave the impression that this band knew exactly what they were doing ---they were a professional band and played with such conviction!!

Not only that but their appearance was stunning! The Elves had the longest hair I'd ever seen (down to the middle of their backs) but more unusual than that was the fact that Dio and Feinstein were so short that they really looked like elves!! I was just a kid but I knew that this band was something very special!!