Ronnie James Dio: An Appreciation

As a teenage metal head, I may have spent more time listening to Ronnie James Dio, who died today after a battle with cancer, than any other singer. This is partly because he was in so many darn bands—including Rainbow, Black Sabbath, and Dio—but mostly due to the fact that he was just a terrific frontman with an operatic control of his vocal instrument that few have ever matched. There are many people who only know the man from his fondness for flashing “the Devil’s horns” or for his cameo in the 2006 Tenacious D movie The Pick of Destiny. However, to a certain section of the metal-loving fraternity, Ronnie James Dio really is a legend.

The singer first came to the attention of rock fans in the mid-’70s as the frontman of Rainbow, the band legendary guitarist Ritchie Blackmore formed after departing from Deep Purple. Blackmore would gain a reputation as a tough, dictatorial boss who tended to re-shuffle the Rainbow lineup with each record. But he clearly recognized the value of Dio’s singing and songwriting skills, as the vocalist would ultimately grace four Rainbow albums—1975′s Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow, 1976′s Rising, 1977′s On Stage, and 1978′s Long Live Rock ‘n’ Roll—before he finally departed. Notable Dio highlights from his days with Rainbow include “Man on the Silver Mountain” and “Kill the King,” a hammering showcase for his full-throated howl.

Dio next joined Black Sabbath for two albums: 1980′s Heaven and Hell and the following year’s Mob Rules. Over time it has become accepted rock wisdom that the only Sabbbath worth listening to is one that features a certain John Michael “Ozzy” Osbourne on vocals. That’s just plain wrong. The two Dio-fronted collections are terrific slabs of rock mayhem that in no way disgrace the Sabs’ history.

In 1982, he left the band and formed Dio with Sabbath drummer Vinnie Appice. The group’s debut album, Holy Diver, once again showed Dio in top form and spawned the swaggering single of the same name. Dio the band continued to release albums over the next decade. Meanwhile, Dio the singer periodically returned to the Sabbath fold. In recent years, the Mob Rules-era lineup—Dio, Appice, guitarist Tony Iommi, and bassist Geezer Butler—toured extensively under the name “Heaven & Hell,” and last year released an album called The Devil You Know. If the latter collection was not the finest work of anyone involved, it did very much show that the singer still possessed one of rock’s great voices.

I’ve posted some tracks after the jump that hopefully do show Ronnie James Dio at his very best. Please check them out.

More on Ronnie James Dio:
Ronnie James Dio, lead singer of Black Sabbath, Dio, Rainbow dies at 67
Black Sabbath lead singer Ronnie James Dio dies

(Follow the Music Mix on Twitter: @EWMusicMix.)

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Comments (191 total) Add your comment
Page: 1 2 3 9
  • sam

    Gone too soon.
    RIP

    • tony

      A true legend. His legacy will live on forever. R.I.P My blessings to his family and friends, and for all those who loved his music.

    • kaddish

      I praise him for being one of the first homosexual metal frontmen to come out of the closet. His bravery in a homophobic industry is an inspiration! I first became aware of his work after his delightful cameo in “The Birdcage” with Nathan Lane.

      • kirk

        You are totally wrong!! Where did you get your facts from?

      • RobK

        LMAO Kaddish. You may be thinking of Rob Halford (Judas Priest). I just don’t see a “delightful cameo in ‘The Birdcage’” from RJD.

      • Man on the Silver Mountain

        I don’t think he ever came out. But listen to some of his lyrics: “The word confused as been abused, but that’s just what he was.” and “He was just 18 and in between a lady and a man.” “He was daddy’s girl in Momma’s world.”

        Sounds like Invisible is all about growing up gay and in the closet. I don’t know of any other metal about being gay from back then so kudos to Dio for pushing the boundries like rock is supposed to do.

      • eddie

        dio wasnt gay u idiot

      • Huh?What?

        kaddish: A little research goes a long way to prevent yourself from appearing that you try to know more than what you do. MOTSM: Listen to Judas Priest sometime.

      • Sharon Stone

        Actually idiots he was gay. Listen just because your homophobic doesn’t change someones sexuality. Get a clue and go away. He was such an inspiration for the gay community. We will never forget you!

      • Marsaili

        Ronnie James Dio was not gay—where are you people getting your information from? Rob Halford of Judas Priest is gay, Dio is not

      • Marlowe32

        Rob Halford = Gay // Freddie Mercury = Gay // Ronnie James Dio = Not Gay // Kaddish + Sharon Stone = Most Definitely Gay // RJD was married until the day he passed away…

      • Locrian

        Um…..Maybe visiting his site will put this to bed. Can anyone say: “Wendy Galaxiola”(now Wendy Dio since the 80′s)?

        My heart goes out to his wife and family……
        (Not life partner)

      • Man on the Silver Mountain

        Hello, McFly – being married doesn’t prove you are straight. Elton John married a woman. Rock Hudson married a woman. Cole Porter married a woman. Even gay porn star Jack Wrangler was married to a woman.

      • crushedu

        You my friend are an Idiot!!!.
        I know women who slept with him in the 80′s.
        Dio was just bad Ass!

      • TeRRy

        YOU ARE A LYING TROLL. Ronnie James Dio was NOT gay u as*h*ole creep

      • Anon

        Yes, he did write a song about the plight of homosexuals. He was not gay himself, though. Wow, what a concept, you morons!

      • Augusto

        Man, I read you comment and I thow “he is speaking about Halford or Mercury” really irrelevant, but Dio gay!?? man where hell do you get your info??

    • Rush

      Too soon? Dude was 67. Sad that he’s gone, but he must’ve had a good life. Stomach cancer is an awful way to go though.

  • ks

    So Sad! I am so glad that I had a chance to meet him. My daughter met him and just loved his music-she is now 30 and never lost the love of his music.
    His first band was Elf in the 60′s.
    He is truly now the man on the silver mountain! Prayers go out to his family, friends and fans. What a huge loss to the music world.

  • Ally

    Who would have thought that Dio would go before Ozzy? Thanks for all the great music Ronnie!

    • LTA

      That is exactly what my husband said after I told him the news! After that, “Rainbow in the Dark” came up on the iPod.

    • Wade Wilson

      This guy sounded like sh*t. Lets save all our boo-hooing for a real musician, and not some grotesque little shrieking hobbit who everyone forgot about and not many cared about to begin with. And yes, I heard he was gay also.

      • ogam5

        You’re clearly tone-deaf…..

      • kirsty

        save your nasty comments for people who actually want to hear them cuz we DONT

      • fenderjazz

        Well Wade, it looks like you’ve received the attention you seem to need so desperately…

      • PISSED OFF

        dio was one of the best voices of all time,go fu*k your self you brainless moron,real musicians,guess your one of those air guitar people huh???

      • PISSED OFF

        everybody knows wade wilson,the brainless wonder.you must be one of those bible thumpers/or deaf morons.to speak bad of mr.dio after his passing shows your wothlessness to society,

    • Rush

      Ozzy is well preserved. Or marinated, take your pick.

      • blutpug

        more like pickled.

  • Black Sabbath

    Saw Dio in ’85 on the Sacred Heart tour. Great show. Giant dragon on the stage. Played Heaven and Hell. We loved it.

    • Joe

      I was at that show too…Ronnie will be missed, what a huge loss!

      • Wade Wilson

        and what a huge piss he took his fan’s ears.

      • Bruce Banner

        Wade Wilson you are a piece of human excrement. P.S.: Deadpool sucks! Loser!

    • jon peterson

      dio rocked saw him 5 times

      • dan from mpls

        I cried when I heard rjd passed…mostly for selfish reasons because I always looked forward to seeing him in concert. (seen him about 7 times).The heaven and hell concert atTarget Center was awesome…I was to young to catch that act in 1980 the first time around, but the band sounded sweet..rjd was 64 at the time? Amazing!!!! Last in line tour I was second person in line for tickets at old met stadium , waited 20 hours and was 16 yrs old..those were great times..Dio was my voice and inspiration when I was in my teenage anger..You remember the Sony cassette walkmans cranking holy diver in your ears as you walked alone in the cold winter streets of mpls hoping to catch the next bus home. I loved rjd’s music..he made me feel I was not alone in the world with my hurt and anger…it helped me fight through my pain as an isolated teenager “I am master of evil songs you sing inside your brain”…Thank you rjd for those wonderful songs..As a fan I Will always cherish your lyrics and music. RIP.

    • Black Sabbath

      And when I say he was a giant dragon on stage I mean it literally! (I had accidentally taken the brown acid)

    • Sheli

      I saw him on that tour, too!! It was amazing. He was very talented and will be missed.

  • ophu

    He also had an hilarious cameo singing the part of “Dr. X” on Queensryche’s Operation Mindcrime II.

  • son of sam

    Please, he wasn’t even remembered by many of the early BS fans, legend ? More than half of the rockers from the 60′s and 70′s didn’t even know his name.

    • kaddish

      respect this musician and honor him

      • kaddish

        r-e-s-p-e-c-t. Find out what it means to me. Sock it to me!

    • pleez

      you must be joking. or an idiot. or both.

      • LOL

        son of sam sounds like an a-hole.

      • Sangeetha

        FunlilPivot on April 7, 2011 uh, is it bad parenting if i bveiele that if i had a kid and this was a national show this would be her/his sesame street?

    • Waldo

      When I saw the article, I said to my wife, “bet ya $10 some a hole will post the inevitable ‘who cares?’ post.” Do you feel good? Now go back to your parents basement and put Ke$ha back on repeat.

    • Gale

      Rockers that don’t know who Dio? Idiots.

      I know that Ozzy-era Sabbath is classic, but Heaven and Hell will always be to me and many others, Sabbath’s best song.

      • Lucid

        And one of their best albums. I’ve been spinning Black Sabbath the Dio Years for months now and I never get tired of it.

      • BlackIrish4094

        And the Live import album Rainbow Live in Germany, his voice is simply amazing. His “world is full of Kings and Queens” line form Heaven and Hell was my yearbook quote.

    • Mike

      Thanks for the useless message troll, you may go back under the bridge you crawled out from under.

    • Melissa

      Rockers who don’t know Dio, aren’t truly rockers….plain and simple…

      • will

        agreed.

      • ks

        100%

    • amanda

      ok really? dude have some effin respect for the man and the fans who loved him…he was amazing and if you cant see that then your blind and we dont need your comment, if your not gonna give condolences then dont bother posting a useless comment, because your just gonna piss everyone off…wait too late, go watch disney or listen to green day or something, you douch bag>=(

    • Hammond Egger

      EW Home // Music // The Music Mix Blog
      The Music Mix Music news, reviews, albums, concerts, and downloadsSee Categories See Archive RSS

      May 16

      2010

      09:06 PM ET
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      Comments (70)

      Ronnie James Dio: An Appreciation
      by Clark Collis
      Categories: Metal, News, R.I.P.
      As a teenage metal head I may have spent more time listening to Ronnie James Dio, who died today from cancer, than any other singer. This is partly because he was in so many darn bands—including Rainbow, Black Sabbath, and Dio—but mostly due to the fact that he was just a terrific frontman with an operatic control of his vocal instrument that few have ever matched. There are many people who only know the man from his fondness for flashing “the Devil’s horns” or his cameo in the 2006 Tenacious D movie The Pick of Destiny. However, to a certain section of the metal-loving fraternity, Ronnie James Dio really is a legend.

      The singer first came to the attention of rock fans in the mid-’70s as the frontman of Rainbow, the band legendary guitarist Ritchie Blackmore formed after departing from Deep Purple. Blackmore would gain a reputation as a tough, dictatorial, boss who tended to re-shuffle the Rainbow lineup with each record. But he clearly recognized the value of Dio’s singing and songwriting skills as the vocalist would ultimately grace four Rainbow albums—1975′s Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow, 1976′s Rising, 1977′s On Stage, and 1978′s Long Live Rock ‘n’ Roll—before he finally departed. Notable Dio highlights from his days with Rainbow include “Man on the Silver Mountain” and “Kill the King,” a hammering showcase for his full-throated howl.

      Dio next joined Black Sabbath for two albums: 1980′s Heaven and Hell and the following year’s Mob Rules. Over time it has become accepted rock wisdom that the only Sabbbath worth listening to is one that features a certain John Michael “Ozzy” Osbourne on vocals. That’s just plain wrong. The two Dio-fronted collections are terrific slabs of rock mayhem that in no way disgrace the Sabs’ history.

      In 1982, he left the band and formed Dio with Sabbath drummer Vinnie Appice. The group’s debut album, Holy Diver, once again showed Dio on top form and spawned the swaggering single of the same name. Dio-the-band continued to release albums over the next decade. Meanwhile, Dio-the-singer periodically returned to the Sabbath fold. In recent years, the Mob Rules-era lineup—Dio, Appice, guitarist Tony Iommi, and bassist Geezer Butler—toured extensively under the name “Heaven & Hell” and last year released an album called The Devil You Know. If the latter collection was not the finest work of anyone involved, it did very much show that the singer still possessed one of rock’s great voices.

      I’ve posted some tracks after the jump that hopefully do show Ronnie James Dio at his very best. Please check them out.

      More on Ronnie James Dio:
      Ronnie James Dio, lead singer of Black Sabbath, Dio, Rainbow dies at 67
      Black Sabbath lead singer Ronnie James Dio dies

      (Follow the Music Mix on Twitter: @EWMusicMix.)

      More from EW.com’s Music Mix:
      Five reasons you should see Hall & Oates on tour
      Kanye West posts photos galore of Michael Jackson’s glorious stuff
      Jay-Z and Eminem set for two hometown stadium concerts together
      Ke$ha takes a trip to an animated desert: Watch her “Your Love Is My Drug” video
      Alicia Keys falls for Chad Michael Murray in “Un-Thinkable (I’m Ready)” video
      Previous Post
      Ronnie James Dio, lead singer of Black Sabbath, Dio, Rainbow dies at 67EW.com Home The Music Mix Main
      Comments (70 total) Add your comment Page: 1 2 3 4 Next »
      sam Sun 05/16/10 9:21 PMGone too soon.
      RIP
      Reply
      ks Sun 05/16/10 9:40 PMSo Sad! I am so glad that I had a chance to meet him. My daughter met him and just loved his music-she is now 30 and never lost the love of his music.
      His first band was Elf in the 60′s.
      He is truly now the man on the silver mountain! Prayers go out to his family, friends and fans. What a huge loss to the music world.
      Reply
      Ally Sun 05/16/10 10:05 PMWho would have thought that Dio would go before Ozzy? Thanks for all the great music Ronnie!
      Reply
      Black Sabbath Sun 05/16/10 10:22 PMSaw Dio in ’85 on the Sacred Heart tour. Great show. Giant dragon on the stage. Played Heaven and Hell. We loved it.
      Reply
      Joe Sun 05/16/10 10:35 PMI was at that show too…Ronnie will be missed, what a huge loss!
      Reply
      jon peterson Sun 05/16/10 11:28 PMdio rocked saw him 5 times
      Reply
      ophu Sun 05/16/10 10:27 PMHe also had an hilarious cameo singing the part of “Dr. X” on Queensryche’s Operation Mindcrime II.
      Reply
      son of sam Sun 05/16/10 10:28 PMPlease, he wasn’t even remembered by many of the early BS fans, legend ? More than half of the rockers from the 60′s and 70′s didn’t even know his name
      Obviously your mom dropped you on your head while breast-feeding you. Nobody likes a jackass who comments on something they know nothing about. Your parents need to throw your pathetic ass out of their home. You sorry parasite!!!

    • will

      jackass!

    • fenderjazz

      Wow. You and Wade Wilson belong together.

    • Anon

      I’m 19, and I know he is. So do all of my friends who listen to classic rock and metal. Plus, Tenacious D has lavished a lot of attention on him.

  • aheefner@gmail.com

    As I find out the news of his passing, and also that the mindless facebook site won’t let me post these thoughts, I am pasting my condolences to both the family of Ronnie James Dio and to all of his fans here below.

    On the passing of Ronnie James Dio:

    I’ll be one of the many to expresses condolences for this great artist, and I was fortunate enough to see him live in concert about 15 years ago. Ronnie James Dio had a unique and powerful voice, and regardless of what many people may think of heavy metal, rock, the symbology it contains, and the many other aspects of his music, Ronnie James Dio had a successful, influential, and ENJOYABLE formula for music that has influenced the many genres of rock and metal. I think many guitarists would agree that the absolute core elements of rock and metal come from artists like Black Sabbath, AC/DC, Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Van Halen, and of course Ronnie James Dio. We have the means now for any fan to send along wishes of peace and healing to the families of artists that we may have never have met in person. I will be one of those fans, as Ronnie’s music has always been part of the core components of heavy sound that I as a guitarist strive for. Ronnie created something more substantial than most modern music ‘artists’ create; there was a true vocal quality, and a construction of instrument sounds that is just uncommon in today’s music. All generations will lament the artists they were most fond of, but I think Ronnie James Dio transcended more generations than most, and his presence will live on for many, many years to come. I wish I could express something more profound or significant as a fan, but I can only say as one of many that he will be missed and never forgotten.

    • Di

      well said. Thank you.

  • Wafi Sattar

    I restate the same sentiments felt by Ally above. Who would have thought it would be DIO to go before Ozzy?

    He is truly the Heavy Metal God. Rest In Peace oh king of the Metal Kingdom. And Rock On in Heaven with the Other Kings of Rock ‘n’ Roll of all times \m/!

  • Matt

    I am so shocked and saddened! What a HUGE loss to the music world!!!

  • Rick

    Damn ….. Ronnie James Dio dead?

    That sucks!! Ronnie was a real metal dude. We will miss him …he is (was) an awesome metal warrior.

    Long Live Rock and Roll!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • TONGOR

    An Incredible singer!!! A Worthy Replacement for OZZY, as Black Sabbath lead back in the day. Outstanding solo Album “Holy Diver”!! The World will mourn The LOSS.

  • chris

    I can’t believe it. When I heard just about an hour ago I went immediately on the computer to make sure it was true. I just bought the album Heaven and Hell and was going to meet Vinnie Appice at a drum seminar this weekend. What a sad time in Metal today.

  • Dirk Ishiwata

    I too had the pleasure of seeing him live some years ago. We all grieve the loss of this great artist, but his spirit will always live in his music. Thanks for the music and the memories. Long Live Rock N Roll!

  • Gary

    The last album I got was the live album as heaven and hell… bloody awesome..and the best live ever..
    Peace Be with you brother Dio

  • Joe

    May the entire Dio family take solace in the fact that Ronnie is at peace, you are all in my prayers. Metal has lost a legend, but he has left us with the gift of his music, thank you Ronnie!

    Joe

    • Latif

      AIMEN Brother. I first saw him in 2003 tour in manhattan. didn’t believe my eyes. I was still learning english. but in libya he was God that we had to lestin to.

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