Has it really been five years, man? Five years since we lost you, the great Ronnie James Dio?? I sadly still remember it like it was yesterday, the day my friend over a Comic Book Jones gave me the news… “Dude, Dio died today” “Dude don’t lie to me like that!” and then he turned about the computer so I could see the Blabbermouth report for myself. I’ll never forget how sad I was at that very moment; and I’m still a bit sad any time I listen to your stuff Ronnie.
The first time I ever heard of you or saw you was a parody on South Park back in 1998. But it was over 2 years later when I heard you singing “Neon Knights” with Black Sabbath that I became hooked. Man did you have a set of pipes on you or what?? I wanted more and I eventually bought the entire Heaven and Hell album. It was then that I discovered that you pretty much were responsible for pretty much all of Metal’s fantastical themes: the dragons, the medieval themes of knights and kings, and of course…rainbows,a recurring theme from your days in the band Rainbow – thank you for ditching Blackmore’s dumb ass by the way!
Then there’s one more important piece of the puzzle you gave us – the horns. So much debate on who first used them, the origins of them with some people suggesting they were first used in India in the 14th century…India. There’s even debate on who used them on stage first. According to what you said your grandmother used to do that to “ward off the Evil Eye or to give the Evil Eye”, of course depending on how you do it. But regardless of who did what first it was ultimately you who made something so seemingly evil such a popular staple at shows everywhere – I know I’m not the only one and for that I thank you!
But I can’t finish this without talking about Dio the MUSICIAN. Oh yeah, until I bought your first solo album, Holy Diver, I was unaware of your ability to write more than just lyrics. Just listening to “Stand Up And Shout” I was instantly blown away at the fresh feeling of the song, the speed, the aggression(!!), the attitude, Vivian Campbell’s intense, frenzied solo. It was a pure breath of fresh air, a nice kick in the balls that almost made the three CDs you did with Sabbath sounds almost tame! There was also that voice, again. You could do anything with your voice and it’d sound amazing; you could sing softly, yell with power, snarl, growl, scream – you could do it all!
I’ll have to admit though, you were a bit funny when I saw you perform live for the first time. It was 2003 and you along with Motorhead were opening up for Iron Maiden at Madison Square Garden – what a bill! You came out and your pipes were in full power that night bro, and I was at 2nd row for this. But, Ronnie, dude, the way you moved on stage that night in your silk pants and shirt with your glitter cross, I wasn’t sure if I was watching Dio or a stripper! But I couldn’t make to many jokes, you killed it that night.
I saw you two more times years later with Heaven and Hell (bullshit. This will always be Black Sabbath!) at Radio City in 2007 and a year later at Metal Masters in New Jersey. If someone told me that that New Jersey show was to be the last time I ever saw you I’d tell them to eat shit and die but sadly that was the case. How empty the world seems without you Ronnie. You were truly one of a kind as a vocalist. But more than even that you were the total package as a frontman and a musician. Also, by most accounts you were also one of the coolest guys ever.
Here’s a quick story. My friend Rick called me up to tell me that his girlfriend, of all people, had been approached by you, Tony, Geezer and Vinny at a deli across the street from Vintage Vinyl, were I guess you all were doing a signing for The Devil You Know. I think you guys actually talked to her because she was the only one who wasn’t running after you guys. According to Rick as soon as you all finally said goodbye to her several girls ran to her asking her if she realized who she just spoke to and when they told her she frantically called Rick right away – and of course Rick called me right away!
Thank you Ronnie, for the impact you left on the Metal community, on several aspiring singers, and on me. There will never be anyone like you again; but I’d like to think that one day soon someone will come along with a passion of metal the at least matches yours. I’m going to leave off here with one of my favorite deep cuts from Holy Diver, because playing that title track alone would be too predictable. Rest in Peace Ronnie, and thank you again. \m/\m/