May 16, 2010

The Passing of A Heavy Metal Legend- Ronnie James Dio (1942-2010)

Sadly today we lost one of the most powerful singers in Heavy Metal & in Rock & Roll. One of my favorites back in the 1980's Metal hey days, Ronnie James Dio has passed on. A great Italian American rocker who wrote so many classics that were a part of my growing up. I saw Dio in concert about five times, plus the Black Sabbath/ Heaven & Hell line up as well. My strongest memories go back to 1984 when Dio released The Last In Line album. It was the talk of all us metal heads in the Bronx, & I played that cassette non stop on my Walkman for weeks. I saw that tour twice as it rolled through the area! "
Ronald James Padavona was born to an Italian Family in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. The Family soon moved to Cortland, New York where Ronnie began to play trumpet, guitar & start singing as early as 1958. He took the name Dio after famous 1950's mobster Johnny Dio in the early 1960's. By the late sixties he formed & fronted the band Elf, who opened up shows for Deep Purple. Ritchie Blackmore liked Elf, remembered them & in 1975 when he formed Rainbow, he recruited Ronnie James Dio as it's lead singer.
With Rainbow Dio recorded three albums, his classics include "Man On The Silver Mountain" "Starstruck" & "Long Live Rock & Roll" all which remained in Dio's live performances throughout his career. In 1979 Ronnie James Dio got the job to replace Ozzy Osbourne in Black Sabbath. A new era began for all......
It was a different sound for Sabbath, but no matter what anyone says the 1980 Heaven & Hell album is one of the best Heavy Metal albums of all time. In those days the late night TV clips were all we had to see what the bands actually looked like. Who could forget how cool Dio looked with that incredibly powerful voice singing Heaven & Hell. He was the first to incorporate the "devil horns" gesture with his hands, which became a known symbol for Long Live Rock & Roll or Rock & Roll Forever. Dio said he actually got the idea from his Italian grandmother who used the gesture to ward off the evil eye. Us Italians know it as giving some one the "Malocchio" (the Evil Eye). Lets face it, we all learned that ymbol from our grandmothers first!

Dio recorded the classics "Neon Nights" (one of my teen age theme songs) "Children Of The Sea" "Lady Evil" "Heaven & Hell" & "The Mob Rules" with Black Sabbath. "The Mob Rules" came out in 1981, the "Live Evil' in 1982. A decade later they released "Dehumanizer" and in 2008 the box set "The Rules of Hell" was released with a full reunion summer tour. By this time they were going under the moniker "Heaven & Hell" & another tour followed. In 2009 they released their final album "The Devil You Know".

After his Sabbath days in 1982 Ronnie & drummer Vinnie Appice went on to form the band, DIO. By this time Ronnie had established himself as one of the most powerful voices in Metal. His lyrics were about medieval themes, battles, dragons, fire, fantasies, heaven & hell.
During the golden age of Metal in the mid 1980's Dio were one of the best. His classic albums from 1983-1987 "Holy Diver" "The Last In Line" & "Sacred Heart" produced some of the best Tours of their day. The Sets were staged with backdrops of Pyramids, Sphinx, lasers & Dragon slaying. Classis songs include "Dont Talk to Strangers" "We Rock" "Rainbow in the Dark" "Stand Up & Shout" "Holy Diver" "Last In Line" "Egypt" & so many more. Overall Dio released 11 albums, 4 live albums & at least 4 best of compilations.

Dio was married twice with one adopted son who is a meteorologist in the Binghampton, NY area. Ronnies long time wife, Wendy, (married since the 1980's) was also his manager. She announced he had stomach cancer last November but reported he was doing well over the last few months. Heaven & Hell did have a Summer tour planned but cancelled when Ronnie's health declined.

Ronnie James Dio passed away on Sunday morning May 16th 2010, he was 67 years old. "Long Live Rock & Roll"............
"The vision never dies, Life's a never ending wheel"- Holy Diver.

1 comment:

MattR said...

This really bummed me out. I knew he was ill but I thought he was getting better. :(