Heavy Metal's legendary singer, Ronnie James Dio, died of Stomach Cancer on May 16th at the age of 67. I thought that I'd like to say a few words.
I woke won morning in 1983 to the amazing sounds of "Rainbow in the Dark" blaring from my clock radio. I was immediately captivated by the vocals of Ronnie James Dio. This was one of those moments that you never forget. I was fortunate enough to see Dio in concert in the Summer of 1984 on his "Last In Line" tour along with Twisted Sister at Pine Knob. This was one of many great concerts for me that Summer. Those were the days before CDs, when we listened to cassettes.
Like a lot of other boys at the time, I was into Heavy Metal and Hard Rock and had known Ronnie James Dio as the guy that replaced Ozzy Osbourne as the lead singer in Black Sabbath. He was also the first singer in Rainbow, the band founded by guitar legend Ritchie Blackmore after leaving Deep Purple. Between various stints with various incarnations of Black Sabbath, he had his own band. After replacing Ozzy, Dio seemed forever tied to Black Sabbath, not ever really get too far from the band as you can see if you look at his musical history. Kind of like Billy Martin and the Yankees, he would get a way and always get pulled back in.
Dio was one of the artists that organized "Hear N Aid" that got various Heavy Metal and Hard Rock musicians together to raise money for Africa as a sort of Hard Rock answer to U.S.A. for Africa. This was not to be his only venture into the world of charity and giving. Manager and wife, Wendy Dio has requested that fans make a donation to the Ronnie Jame Dio "Stand Up And Shout" Cancer Fund (you can read more about it at Dio's homepage).
Dio revealed last Summer had stomach cancer, after wrapping a tour in Atlantic City with Heaven And Hell ( the latest version of Black Sabbath). Wendy Dio has written quite a bit about his battle with Cancer at the website. On March 12, Wendy wrote... "Well, now it has been Ronnie’s 7th chemo, another cat scan and another endoscopy, and the results are good – the main tumor has shrunk considerably..." Like so many others, Ronnie James Dio wasn't victorious in his battle with Cancer, but he fought and kept the music going.
Heavy Metal, especially that which Dio, has had a lot of good verses evil themes, many of them very epic in nature. I thought that I'd site a few of the more famous lines from Dio. (I don't even dare to try to match the imagery)
From "Heaven And Hell"- Black Sabbath (you can read the rest of the lyrics at Lyrics Freak here)
The devil is never a maker The less that you give, you're a taker
The lover of lifes not a sinner The ending is just a beginner The closer you get to the meaning The sooner you'll know that you're dreaming
Well if it seems to be real, it's illusion For every moment of truth, there's confusion in life The world is full of kings and queens Who blind your eyes and steal your dreams
And they'll tell you black is really white The moon is just the sun at night And when you walk in golden halls You get to keep the gold that falls
From "Rainbow in the Dark" - Dio (read the rest of the lyrics at Lyrics Freak here)
When there's lightning You know it always brings me down Cause it's free and I see that it's me Who's lost and never found
No sign of the morning coming You've been left on your own Like a Rainbow in the Dark
Do your demons Do they ever let you go When you've tried do they hide deep inside
From "The Last in Line" - Dio (read the rest of lyrics at Lyrics Freak here)
We're a ship without a storm The cold without the warm Light inside the darkness that it needs We're a laugh without a tear The hope without the fear We are coming - home
We'll know for the first time If we're evil or divine We're the last in line It's the angel or the beast And the answer lies between The good and bad
And lastly from the "Mob Rules" -Black Sabbath (read the rest of lyrics at Lyrics Freak here)
If you listen to fools, The mob rules
Upon hearing the news, I played several songs from Dio at Blip.fm. I'll be getting out my CDs with Dio to hear him again. My condolences to the family, friends, and fans of Ronnie James Dio. This was truly a sad day for music. Dio was such a big part of my teenage years and my early twenties. I'd like to thank him for the music and for all that he has meant to me over the years. Although he might not have to wait to much longer for "the judgment", in the hearts of his fans, he'll always be the "Last in Line" singing about those epic battles of good verse evil. It is really amazing how the lines between good and evil have become so blurred that it isn't so easy now a days to know the good from the bad. Ronnie, it seems that you work isn't done. R.I.P, Ronnie.
Here are some links that you might like if you're a fan of Ronnie James Dio...
Photo credit: Heaven And Hell 5 from Wikipedia Commons