Ronnie James Dio (1942-2010)

Ronnie James Dio, the vocalist for Elf, Rainbow, Black Sabbath (replacing Ozzy Osbourne), Dio and Heaven and Hell, passed away on Sunday morning after battling stomach cancer.  He was 67.

Wendy Dio has posted the following on Ronnie's website:
Message from Wendy Dio

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.

- Wendy Dio 
ElfDio started his career in the 60's, playing bass and trumpet for a local group called the Vegas Kings.  The group later became known as the Electric Elves and, in the early 70's, Elf.  The group released three albums, none of which charted, and were guests on two album by Roger Glover of Deep Purple.  It was through Glover that they met Richie Blackmore, who used the musicians from the group to form Rainbow.

RisingTheir first album, Richie Blackmore's Rainbow, made it to 30 in the U.S., but both Blackmore and Dio weren't happy with the sound of the group, so they started replacing musicians, including some of Dio's friends from Elf.  The resulting album, Rising, is considered one of the greats of heavy metal, catching both artists at the peak of their creative power.  The subsequent European tour for the album also spawned the release On Stage.

More personnel changes followed the tour which led to Long Live Rock 'n' Roll in 1978, but there was a growing rift between Blackmore and Dio over the direction of the band and Dio ended up leaving to take the place of Ozzy Osbourne in Black Sabbath. 

Mob RulesThe new version of Sabbath revitalized the band whose albums had been selling less and less as the 70's wore on.  After Osbourne's last album, Never Say Die, only made it to 69 in the U.S., Dio came in and the group took their next two releases, Heaven and Hell and Mob Rules, into the top thirty.  Ronnie, though, was still not happy after jumping from group-to-group for so many years, so he left Sabbath in 1982 to strike out on his own.

Holy DiverThe group Dio was huge right from the start as a concert draw and did well with their first three albums, Holy Diver (1983/#56), The Last Line (1984/#24) and Sacred Heart (1985/#29).  The band was also responsible for organizing Hear N' Aid, a project built in the style of U.S.A. for Africa.  Their single, Stars, was performed by an all-star group of metal musicians with all proceeds going to fight hunger in Africa.

Dio continued to be popular on the concert circuit but their albums sold less well as the years went on.  The group released eight albums in total between 1983 and 2002's Killing the Dragon, a span that included a hiatus while Dio returned to Black Sabbath to record the album Dehumanizer and tour behind it.

The Devil You KnowIn 2006, Dio went back in the studio with Black Sabbath members Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler and Vinny Appice to record three new tracks for the Dio Years compilation.  They got along so well that they decided to continue their collaboration leading to the 2007 album Live From Radio City Music Hall and their first studio album, 2009's The Devil You Know.  The group had planned on touring this summer until Dio's illness. 

Geezer Butler's official site currently has a picture of Dio with the statement "Goodbye My Dear Friend."  The Black Sabbath site shows the same picture headed with "RIP Ronnie James Dio."  Expect many tributes to this icon of heavy metal music over the next few days.

1 comment

Nightmare 7 said...

You will live in our hearts forever Ronnie. We will miss you.

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