Monday, May 17, 2010

Ronnie James Dio - 1942 - 2010

Ronnie James Dio, whose soaring vocals, poetic lyrics and mythical tales of the never-ending struggle between good and evil broke new ground in heavy metal, has died at 67.  His death was reported by his wife and manager, Wendy Dio.   

The man once credited as the first to use the two-fingered sign now known as "horns"  (quoted from Dee Snider: "...Ronnie was the first ever to throw horn "with intent...") passed away as a result of stomach cancer.  His tour with Heaven and Hell (including members of Black Sabbath) had recently been cancelled due to Dio's declining health.

Ronnie's voice and stage presence had a profound impact on rock music.  Bands such as Rainbow, Deep Purple, Back Sabbath/Heaven and Hell, and his self-named band Dio sold millions of records and entertained similar numbers in live shows worldwide.  Ronnie can also be seen in bit parts on several music-related movies, the latest being Tenacious D with Jack Black.

I met Ronnie once - in the early 1990s while working at the (boring but) pre-eminent AOR FM station in Los Angeles.  A man whose physical stature did not correlate to the power of his voice (if you are familiar with Dio's singing, you know even Shaq couldn't match that voice), in person he was the most hospitable and engaging guy you would ever hope to meet - quite contrary to his quasi-demonic stage character. 

Ronnie's voice graces some of my favorite albums of the genre. The music world will miss his contributions.
And don't miss comments and videos by bobbelvedere at TCOTS .  He's a fellow guitar player and all-around good guy.

Typically, one would wish the departing soul "Rest in Peace". For Ronnie, we'll instead "throw horns" to him and pray he either minimally corrupt Heaven, or enjoys ruling Hell.  And to that send off...

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