Yesterday marked the two year anniversary of the day the man, the legend Ronnie James Dio lost his battle with stomach cancer. His death was announced by his wife and manager, Wendy, on his official website in 2010 and within the hour 7,500 fans had already posted tributes on his official Facebook page.
His operatic voice and lyrical content has been an inspiration for countless artists spanning many musical genres. But it’s the fantastical, medieval, ‘dragons and kings’ style of lyrics that really caught the imagination of the metal artists. There are elements of his influence traversing all genres of Metal today but especially Power, Folk, Pagan and Prog Metal to name but a few.
Today at Adrenochrome we wish to pay homage to Dio’s career, spanning nearly five decades, it was a colourful one and extremely successful. He recorded four albums with Rainbow before concluding that he could no longer see eye to eye musically with the more commercially inclined Blackmore and left the band. He took over from Ozzy Osbourne as lead vocalist with Black Sabbath in 1979, hired at the suggestion of Sharon Arden, the daughter of Sabbath’s thuggish manager Don Arden, and Ozzy’s future wife. With Black Sabbath, Dio was at the centre of heavy metal, and he responded by delivering superb performances on Sabbath’s 1980 album Heaven and Hell, hailed by critics and fans as a return to form by a band which had been palpably running out of energy and ideas.
It was during the latter years in Sabbath that Dio started to fall out with other members of the band, scantily resembling that which realeased the legendary self titled debut in 1970. Dio furiously refused to allow anybody to interfere with the way his voice was mixed or recorded, while the other members interpreted this as a threat and accussed him of turning his voice up too loud.
Dio left on his own terms and took drummer Vinny Appice with him and formed his own band Dio (a name leaving no room for doubt about who was in charge), which would record 10 albums over nearly three decades. However, he did make a brief return to Black Sabbath when he appeared on their album Dehumanizer in 1992. Debate seems destined to rage among Sabbath fans about whether Osbourne or Dio represents the band’s true soul.
Dio had become a fixture in Heavy Metal’s global family, his legend intensified by his being credited with making the “devil horns” hand gesture the international Metal call sign. Dio plays it down and claimed he had learned it from his Italian grandmother, who used it to ward off evil spirits.
He had become sufficiently revered to have a multi-artist tribute album recorded in his honour, in the shape of Holy Dio: Tribute to Ronnie James Dio (2000). According to UltimateClassicRock another tribute album in honour of Dio will be realeased this year. The project is being put together by Ronnie’s widow, Wendy, who revealed that she is leaving the song picks to the musicians involved. Allegedly the artist so far confirmed are Priest’s Rob Halford, Lemmy, Dave Grohl and Ian Gillan of Deep Purple.
In 2006, he made a cameo appearance in the film Tenacious D the Pick of Destiny. In the film, a young Jack Black reaches out to a poster of Dio on his wall, pleading for his guidance. Dio’s advice is to go forth and follow his dreams, bellowing “now go, my son, and rock!”, a truly righteous scene, a truly righteous man.