A god amongst men, Ronnie James Dio righteously graced the heavy metal world for many years before losing his fight with stomach cancer on May 16, 2010.
Born Ronald James Padavona, Dio was not like many other heavy metal legends. He legitimately worked from the absolute bottom to the top of the metal brotherhood. Between his early doo-wop group days and earning his well-deserved legendary status, Dio fronted several hard rock groups. The group that first put him on the map was Elf. Ritchie Blackmore of Deep Purple then recruited him as the lead singer for Blackmore’s new project, Rainbow.
With Rainbow, Dio forged his unbeatable and indestructible, heavenly vocals on such classics as “Kill The King,” “Man On The Silver Mountain,” and “Stargazer,” among others. Rainbow was ultimately his break-through gig, evidenced by Black Sabbath picking him up when Ozzy went solo.
Having appeared on only three Sabbath records, it is especially impressive that there has since been a constant debate of which vocalist was better, Dio or Ozzy. Of course, both versions of Black Sabbath were as different as white and wheat bread. Dio-era Sabbath was arguably darker and heavier while Ozzy ultimately participated in creating the original and perhaps “true” Sabbath sound. Furthermore, Dio had a wider vocal range and continued to sound great up until he passed away.
Now that he had the exposure and experience to do so, Dio subsequently left Black Sabbath to form his solo band, Dio. Dio’s Holy Diver still stands as one of the greatest heavy metal records ever. Many newer bands have covered several songs off that album. For instance, Killswitch Engage have recorded and performed studio and live versions of the title track. Old school thrashers Destruction covered “Stand Up And Shout” for their 2011 release, Day Of Reckoning.
In 2007, Dio reunited with Black Sabbath under the name, Heaven & Hell, due to legal precautions. They released the phenomenal The Devil You Know in 2009 and extensively toured until Dio was diagnosed with stomach cancer. The band was actually planning to record a second album under the new name. That piece of information is still upsetting. However, it is more upsetting that Dio had to die at all. Most metalheads would probably be okay with him living forever, even if that meant he was a vampire.
It is crazy that it has been three years. Rest in peace, Ronnie. Keep belting out those harmonies up in the clouds.