The Passing Of Ronnie James Dio


wildwoman1313
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Joined: 11/17/08
Posts: 303
wildwoman1313
Full Access
Joined: 11/17/08
Posts: 303
05/19/2010 8:50 pm



As you've no doubt heard by now, the metal world lost one of its most beloved figures last week. Ronnie James Dio, whose rock career spanned five decades as a singer for the bands Elf, Rainbow, Black Sabbath, and the eponymous Dio, had one of the meanest, most recognizable voices in rock music. His poetic lyrics and medieval imagery broke new ground in heavy metal while his Mephistophelean stage persona won him the adulation of generations of metal fans and the respect of his peers. Dio died in Los Angeles on the morning of May 16th after a six-month battle with stomach cancer. He was 67.

A statement posted on his website by Wendy Dio, his wife and longtime manager, said in part that, "Many, many friends and family were able to say their private goodbyes before he peacefully passed away. Ronnie knew how much he was loved by all. Please know he loved you all and his music will live on forever."

Ronald James Padavona was born an only child in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, on July 10, 1942, to an Italian American family. He was raised in upstate New York in the town of Cortland. Despite being known for his vocal prowess, Dio claimed he never had any formal training but the breath training he'd received when learning to play the French horn and trumpet as a child. He recorded several singles with various rockabilly bands when he was a boy and joined his first band in 1957 while still in high school, initially playing bass for an outfit called The Vegas Kings before taking over as the band's lead singer. When the Julliard School of Music awarded him a scholarship, Dio turned it down to pursue his interest in rock music and released his first record in 1958 with the group Ronnie & The Red Caps. A few years later he adopted his stage name, which was inspired by New York mafia figure Johnny Dio.

Dio got his professional start in 1967 as bassist and vocalist for the blues-rock band Elf. His rich, soulful voice first caught the ear of guitar legend Ritchie Blackmore when Elf opened for Deep Purple in the early '70s. Blackmore left Deep Purple in 1975 to start his own band and recruited Dio and some of his Elf bandmates to come along for the ride. Dio would go on to make four albums as vocalist for Rainbow before personal differences caused him to leave the band in 1978.

A year later, Ronnie James Dio catapulted to metal icon status when he took over for longtime Black Sabbath frontman Ozzy Osbourne, who had been fired by the band. Although the prospect of filling Osbourne's shoes was a daunting one, Dio not only held his own, he helped Sabbath out of a creative slump and gave the band second life with the 1980 metal classic Heaven and Hell and their follow-up album Mob Rules. It was during his stint with Sabbath that Dio became famous for his use of "devil horns," a hand gesture used at virtually all rock concerts today. Dio said that his grandmother used to make the gesture to ward off the evil eye, a common superstition among Italians. "The gesture was a symbol that I thought was reflective of what that band was supposed to be all about," he said. "It's NOT the devil's sign like we're here with the devil. It's just a symbol but it had magical incantations and attitudes to it and I felt it worked very well with Sabbath. So I became very noted for it and then everybody else started to pick up on it and away it went."

Dio cut two albums with Black Sabbath before internal tensions came to a head during the mixing of 1982s Live Evil. He left Sabbath, taking drummer Vinny Appice with him, and after years of fronting other groups, struck out on his own and formed the band Dio. The group found critical and commercial success with their 1983 debut album Holy Diver, which spawned the title track that became one of Dio's most praised and recognized songs. The band, in various incarnations, continued to release albums over the next decade and, after some rather lackluster years in the '90s, saw renewed success in 2000 with Holy Dio: Tribute to Ronnie James Dio and with Magica, which reached #13 on the Billboard Independent chart and was the first of a planned trilogy of concept albums based on The Book of Magica.

Over the years Dio would periodically return to the Sabbath fold. A brief reunion with his former bandmates in the early '90s produced the album Dehumanizer before Ozzy's eventual return to the band. In 2006 he again hooked up with Appice, guitarist Tony Iommi and bassist Geezer Butler to write and record a handful of new tracks for inclusion on the Black Sabbath: The Dio Years collection and to play a sold-out tour under the moniker Heaven and Hell, so named for the title of the first Black Sabbath album with Dio at the helm. Heaven and Hell released Live from Radio City Music Hall in 2007, a double album featuring songs from Dio-era Sabbath, and followed up in 2009 with The Devil You Know, their first--and last--studio album under the name. The album reached the top 10 in its first week of release, debuting at #8 on the Billboard 200 chart. The band were out on the road promoting The Devil You Know when it was announced in November 2009 that Dio had been diagnosed with stomach cancer.

During the grueling round of chemotherapy that followed, Ronnie James Dio showed the defiance that made him a metal legend, flashing his famous devil horns even as he lay in a hospital bed. "This hasn't really been a problem for me. Cancer? I'll kick the hell out of you. I refuse to be beaten in any shape or form," Dio said in March. He had undergone his seventh chemo treatment and although the results of a cat scan and endoscopy showed the main tumor had shrunk considerably, his health began to deteriorate quickly. Dio was forced to cancel the European leg of Heaven and Hell's tour scheduled for this summer but remained optimistic and refused to view the setback as permanent. "With your continued love and support, we will carry on and thrive," he said on his MySpace blog. "There will be other tours, more music, more life and much more magic. Together we shall face the foe and live on to climb high mountains and explore greater magic. Together we cannot fail. Please accept my never-ending love and dedication to you all. So it is written, and so it shall be."

Dio walked the black carpet of the Revolver Golden Gods Awards on April 8th in downtown Los Angeles where Alice in Chains presented him with a trophy for Best Vocalist. It would be one of his last public appearances.

In the hours after his death, there was an outpouring of heartfelt tributes posted to the singer's Facebook fan page. Dio was remembered by fans and fellow musicians including members of Slipknot, Slayer, and Anthrax. Twisted Sister guitarist Jay Jay French, whose band had toured with Dio since 1983 and was set to do so again this summer in Europe, said of Dio that, "He possessed one of the greatest voices in all of heavy metal and had a heart to match it. He was the nicest, classiest person you would ever want to meet."

Motley Crue's Nikki Sixx said he was shocked to learn of Dio's death. "Ronnie was one of the kindest souls I have ever met, and his talent was beyond inspirational to so many of us. I still have this image of him standing on stage in front of 100,000 belting out 'Man on the Silver Mountain' and remember the shivers it sent up my spine. He will be missed by all of us."

But perhaps most poignant of all is the moving open letter to Dio posted on Metallica's website from drummer Lars Ulrich, who credits the singer for inspiring him to become a musician. His letter read in part that, "I'm kind of in shock, but I wanted you to know that you were one of the main reasons I made it onto that stage to begin with. When I first saw you in Elf, opening for Deep Purple in 1975, I was completely blown away by the power in your voice, your presence on stage, your confidence, and the ease with which you seemed to connect to 6,000 Danish people and one starry-eyed 11-year-old." Ulrich went on to say that, "In the fall of 1976, when you played your first show in Copenhagen, I was literally in the front row and the couple of times we made eye contact you made me feel like the most important person in the world. The news that you guys were staying in town on your day off somehow embedded itself in my brain and I made the pilgrimage to the Plaza Hotel to see if I could somehow grab a picture, an autograph, a moment, anything. A few hours later you came out and were so kind and caring... pictures, autographs and a couple minutes of casual banter. I was on top of the world, inspired and ready for anything. Ronnie, your voice impacted and empowered me, your music inspired and influenced me, and your kindness touched and moved me. Thank you."

Amen to that.
# 1


Joined: 05/21/24
Posts: 0


Joined: 05/21/24
Posts: 0
05/22/2010 12:28 am
I first heard of Ronnie James Dios' passing and was stunned.

I read about his passing and went to his website, and alas... no information!

Finally, I have closure on his background, challenge with a dreaded disease,

and what his life meant to others.

Great closing by Lars Ulrich.

Never knew the story behind the "devil horn" sign! what antithesis!

Thanks again for closing this question and shock, now I can reflect

knowing exactly what happened. Thanks again.

Mike D.
# 2
dendron
Registered User
Joined: 05/25/09
Posts: 13
dendron
Registered User
Joined: 05/25/09
Posts: 13
07/09/2010 11:45 pm
A nifty piece of journalism, wildwoman1313, thanks for the inclusion of so many interesting details about his life and career in such a small space. Ronnie was a tremendous talent and is greatly missed by his legions of fans. Rest in peace, brother.
# 3

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