To Dino Totino, heavy metal music is not simply a genre; it is a lifestyle and world view. His office space is where the he spends most of his time. On a typical Sunday afternoon, the self-proclaimed metal-head sits in a dusty computer chair covered in navy blue distressed fabric. The air around him is heavy and stale, as if the windows have been closed for a long time. A yellowing old-fashioned cathode ray tube monitor sits on his desk with a chunky keyboard in front of it. The EBay website and a YouTube interview of Ozzy Ozbourne is on pause in his tab bar, along with Metallica’s Master of Puppets album playing in the background. Pictures of him with metal artists hang along the back wall of the room. He proceeds to place a bid on EBay, acquiring a limited edition t-shirt of metal artist Ronnie James Dio that will arrive in two weeks.
At only 10 years old, Totino’s brother Aldo introduced him to artists such as Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath and Metallica, which inspired him to pick up the electric guitar at 14. Among the metal “Gods” he grew up listening to, there were two musicians in particular that captured his attention when he saw them on stage for the first time; Ozzy Osbourne and his guitarist Randy Rhoads.
“I was about 17 or 18, and a bunch of us were hanging out in the park, and we heard that the lead singer of Black Sabbath was playing at the St-Denis Theatre,” Totino said. “I had never seen him live before, and he had just got fired from Black Sabbath for his drug abuse, so we ended up getting tickets easily since nobody was interested in seeing a show without his band. I ended up in the first row,” he continued with a big smile. “It changed my life, especially when I saw Randy Rhoads, his new guitarist. I’m a guitar guy, so when Rhoads comes on stage with a polka dot guitar, you know, it was inspiration,” he laughed. “I was hooked to Ozzy and his music ever since, specifically the albums Rhoads played on. Those albums changed metal history forever and it changed me too.”
A year and a half after Totino’s first Ozzy concert, Rhoads died. “I was so mad, I banned seeing Ozzy,” he said. “I kept buying his records, magazines, and kept my tickets, but I missed the “Speak of the Devil” tour and a few others. I regretted not seeing him,” he said, shaking his head of curly hair. “Eventually I got back into him, but [Rhoads’ death] was a major catastrophe at the time. I have seen him five or six times since then.”
I learned soon enough that you can’t keep everything because you’ll go broke.As much as the stuff means to me, it is nice to know I can share it with another metal-head.
The obsession with Randy Rhoads is what sparked Totino to collect memorabilia. “I started out with magazines, and if I saw something in a music shop related to Randy I’d purchase it,” he said. “I’d always keep ticket stubs from other concerts, tour books, anything related to shows I’d seen.” However, in 1999, the obsession peaked. “A friend of mine introduced me to EBay, and I saw everything that was really out there in comparison to what I collected,” he said. “I remember thinking to myself, ‘boy, I got a lot of work to do’.”
“I bought everything Randy at first,” he said. “I never thought that even though he was only with Ozzy for 2 years that they would make so many things related to him. Then when I saw the Ozzy memorabilia on EBay, all hell broke loose,” he chuckled.
For Totino, buying memorabilia is more than just adding to a collection. He spends countless hours on EBay looking for anything related to metal artists, whether it is rare limited edition statues to tour memorabilia from the 1970s. “It started getting out of control, because there was also memorabilia from dozens of heavy metal bands out there,” he continued. “I started buying merchandise from all the different tours, like the “Bark at the Moon” tour of Ozzy’s, statues, records, colored disks, limited edition items, you name it, I had it. It got to a point that I was spending most of my money, my wife even got paranoid. I couldn’t stop, hours and hours into the night I would be bidding. Most of my bulk stuff is Ozzy and Rhoads, but I have memorabilia from many other heavy metal gods.”
Totino realized that there is not only a pleasure in collecting, so he began selling and trading memorabilia as well. “I learned soon enough that you can’t keep everything because you’ll go broke,” he said. “As much as the stuff means to me, it is nice to know I can share it with another metal-head. I buy, I sell, let some things go, trade some.” Metal-heads are found all over the globe, and Totino acquainted a young Ozzy fan in Texas. “One kid in Texas bought a whole bunch of Ozzy stuff off of me,” he said with a smile. “He wanted to make his own Ozzy room, kind of like what I had growing up, and I said what the heck. I enjoyed that stuff for many years, but I couldn’t keep it forever. I would definitely keep the Randy Rhoads stuff though, just because of how much I looked up to him as a guitarist,” he continued. “Of course I’d have to keep all of my autographs and pictures of metal Gods, partially because I can’t sell it if it’s addressed to me. It’s too ‘Dino’,” he laughed. “I can’t forget my flying V guitar too, that’s got to stay.”
Although Totino has sold a lot of his memorabilia, meeting Ozzy Osbourne is one of his dreams, and it has come awfully close. “About 10 years ago, Ozzy was going to be interviewed and my buddy at CFCF 12 asked me if I wanted to get anything signed,” he said. “I immediately told my son Justin, ‘stop doing your homework, go write Ozzy a letter!’, so he did.” Totino pulls out a cartoon of Ozzy Obsourne drawn by his son, pointing at Ozzy’s scribbled autograph. The words “You are great” are written above it in all uppercase letters. “During the interview, he talked about my own son and Sharon Osbourne kept the letter he wrote,” he said, staring at the cartoon in hand. “After the show, Ozzy wanted to do something, so they gave Justin an Ozzy lunchbox and a t-shirt. As an eleven year old, Justin freaked. Maybe I freaked a little more,” he laughed.
“I’ve crossed paths with Ozzy, but I’ve still never met him,” Totino said. “What would I do if I met him? Well, we’d probably sit down and have a bat sandwich.”
Here is the interview where Ozzy sees the letter Totino’s son Justin drew.
Here are pictures of various memorabilia that Totino currently owns. These pictures were not taken in his house (aside from the last 3), but they are replicas online that are the same as what he does own. By clicking on a thumbnail you can look at the rest up close!