Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Holy Diver: A Tribute to Ronnie James Dio

Heavy metal has had its share of critics. Some dismiss the music and genre. Believe it or not, heavy metal has some of the best musicians out there. When it comes to metal singers, Ronnie James Dio is probably the best. His credits are amazing. Sadly, he passed away on May 16, 2010. Still, Dio was one of a kind.

Ronnie James Dio was born on July 10, 1942 in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. When he was just in his teens, he began to sing and play in bands. He was in numerous bands throughout the 1960's until he was in Elf in the early 1970's. Elf released a few albums and one time, opened up for Deep Purple. By this time, guitarist Ritchie Blackmore was about to leave Deep Purple. When Blackmore Met Dio, he recruited him to be the singer in his new band Rainbow. In 1975, Rainbow's debut album was released to positive reviews. While Rainbow went through personnel changes, Dio stayed for two more studio albums (Rising and Long Live Rock N Roll) and a live album before leaving in 1979.

In 1979, Dio was hired to replace Ozzy Osbourne in Black Sabbath. In 1980, the band released Heaven And Hell and then the following year, Mob Rules was released. It was during Dio's stay in Black Sabbath that he popularized the "metal horns". Dio would lift his index and pinky finger and hold down his middle and ring finger with his thumb. Dio would cite years later that he got the "horns" from his grandmother, who would do it to keep evil spirits away. After the release of a live album, Dio and drummer Vinny Appice left Black Sabbath and formed the band Dio. Their debut album, Holy Diver, was a commercial success. Although Dio went through changes in their line-up, Ronnie remained the stable member. Dio took a short break in 1992 when Ronnie went to reunite Black Sabbath for 1992's Dehumanizer. Ronnie went back to making music with Dio until 2006 when he reunited with Black Sabbath again only this time; the band went under the name Heaven & Hell. In 2009, The Devil You Know was released. In December 2009, Dio was diagnosed with stomach cancer. Dio went under chemotherapy and was well enough to attend VH1's Revolver Golden God Awards, where he was awarded "Best Metal Singer". On May 4th, Heaven & Hell were forced to cancel their summer tour due to Dio's health. On May 16, 2010, Ronnie James Dio passed away.

Dio's passing has been a huge loss in the world of heavy metal music. I myself was lucky enough to see he and Dio perform in 2003. Whether it's Rainbow, Black Sabbath, or Dio, Ronnie James Dio's music will live on forever. Without a doubt, Ronnie James Dio was and forever will be the best metal singer.

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