R. I. P. Ronnie James Dio (1942 – 2010)

Posted by Grey Thursday, May 20, 2010

The Heavy Metal community across the world mourned as the legendary voice of Rainbow and Black Sabbath (during Ozzy Osbourne's absence), and undoubtedly, one of the greatest of the Heavy Metal world, Ronnie James Dio, passed away on May 16th, 2010. He was 67.

Arguably the definitive voice of the Heavy Metal genre, Dio's very name itself is without a shadow of a doubt, synonymous with Heavy Metal forever. The former frontman of Rainbow, Black Sabbath and his personal band, Dio, Ronnie James Dio, born Ronald James Padavona, passed away on May 16th after a battle with stomach cancer that lasted less than a year.

The regrettable news were announced by his wife and longtime manager, Wendy Galaxiola Dio, on his website.

"Today my heart is broken, Ronnie passed away at 7:45am 16th May. Many, many friends and family were able to say their private good-byes before he peacefully passed away. Ronnie knew how much he was loved by all. We so appreciate the love and support that you have all given us. Please give us a few days of privacy to deal with this terrible loss. Please know he loved you all and his music will live on forever."

Possessing one of the most powerful voices in Heavy Metal, Dio was the frontman of several not one but few of the most iconic rock band of the genre: Elf, Rainbow, and Black Sabbath, when he replaced the previously-thought irreplaceable Ozzy Osbourne in 1979, revitalizing the career of legendary band with the successful "Heaven and Hell" album. Dio subsequently left Black Sabbath after the release of another two studio records to kickstart his very own band, Dio, in late 1982. In October 2006, Dio reunited with his former Black Sabbath members Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler, and Vinny Appice for a tour under the moniker "Heaven & Hell", incidentally the title of the first Black Sabbath album under Dio's charge. The new name were chosen as Iommi and Butler were actually involved in a separate reunion of the original Black Sabbath with Ozzy Osbourne.

With his formidable signature voice, fantasy-laden lyrics and outrageous onstage theatrics (that usually depicts the aforementioned lyrical fantasy), Dio has been influential to many musicians in generations to come. Mainstream contemporary figures such as Jack Black, Dave Grohl, Metallica, Slayer, Smashing Pumpkins and Rob Zombie are just of few musicians.

Another major contribution that places Dio in the Hall of Fame of Heavy Metal would be the infamous "Devil's Horns" gesture that was popularized by Dio, and to a lesser extent, Gene Simmons of KISS. By simply joining the index and fourth finger, the "Devil's Horns" has since become a staple feature in rock concerts across the world and the official sign language of the Heavy Metal scene.

Long-rumored to be in an unpleasant professional rivalry with Dio, the equally legendary Osbourne has released an official statement hailing Dio as "one of Metal's greatest voices", while contemporary artists from Slayer's Kerry King, Anthrax's Scott Ian and Charlie Benante, Slipknot and Stone Sour frontman Corey Taylor, Slash, Sebastian Bach, former Rainbow bandmate Ritchie Blackmore, former Dio guitarist Rowan Robertson, Rob Zombie, Fear Factory's Burton C. Bell, amongst others, also paid their tributes. In particular, Lars Ulrich of Metallica, wrote an emotional and lengthy letter in memory of Dio on the Metallica website:

A Letter To Ronnie

Dear Ronnie,
I just got off stage in Zagreb. I was met with the news that you've passed on. 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 6000 Danish people and one starry-eyed 11 year old, most of whom were not familiar with Elf's music. The following year, I was so psyched when I heard the results of you joining forces with my favorite guitar player. You guys sounded so right for each other and I instantly became Rainbow's #1 fan in Denmark. 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. Rainbow came to Copenhagen a couple more times over the next few years and each time you guys blew my mind, and for a good three years were my absolute favorite band on this planet. Over the years I've been fortunate enough to run into you a half dozen times or so and each time you were as kind, caring and gracious as you were in 1976 outside the hotel. When we finally got a chance to play together in Austria in 2007, even though I may not have let on, I was literally transformed back to that little snot nosed kid who you met and inspired 31 years earlier and it was such a fucking honor and a dream come true to share a stage with you and the rest of the legends in Heaven and Hell. A couple of weeks ago when I heard that you were not going to be able to make it to the Sonisphere shows that we would be sharing this June, I wanted to call you and let you know that I was thinking of you and wish you well, but I kind of pussied out, thinking the last thing you needed in your recovery was feeling obligated to take a phone call from a Danish drummer/fan boy. I wish I'd made that call. We will miss you immensely on the dates, and we will be thinking of you with great admiration and affection during that run. It seemed so right to have you out on tour with the so-called “Big Four” since you obviously were one of the main reasons that the four bands even exist. Your ears will definitely be burning during those two weeks because all of us will be talking, reminiscing and sharing stories about how knowing you has made our lives that much better.

Ronnie, your voice impacted and empowered me, your music inspired and influenced me, and your kindness touched and moved me. Thank you.

Much love,


We here at The Daily Zombies would also like to pay our respect to the undisputed voice of Heavy Metal who had brought so much joy and inspirations to metalheads all over this worthless world.

Be it Heaven or Hell, rock on.

We end this obituary by featuring two video clips of the all-time classic "Holy Diver", one being the original while one being Killswitch Engage's 2006 cover.

The real fucking deal.

Killswitch Engage's inevitably inferior cover.


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