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Ronnie James Dio

Ronald James Padavona (July 10, 1942 – May 16, 2010), better known by his stage name Ronnie James Dio, was an American singer, songwriter, and musician. He fronted and/or founded numerous groups including Elf, Rainbow, Black Sabbath, Dio, and Heaven & Hell. He is credited with popularizing the “metal horns” hand gesture in metal culture and was known for his medieval-themed lyrics. Dio possessed a powerful versatile vocal range capable of singing both hard rock and lighter ballads.

Career

Rainbow

Dio’s vocals caught the ear of Deep Purple guitarist Ritchie Blackmore in the mid-1970s. Blackmore invited Dio along with Gary Driscoll to record two songs in Tampa, Florida on December 12, 1974. They released the self-titled debut album Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow in early 1975. After that, Dio recorded two more studio albums (Rising and Long Live Rock ‘n’ Roll) and two archival live albums (Live in Munich 1977 and Live in Germany 1976) with Blackmore.

Black Sabbath

Dio left Rainbow in 1979 and soon joined Black Sabbath, replacing the fired Ozzy Osbourne. Dio met Sabbath guitarist Tony Iommi by chance at The Rainbow on Sunset Strip in Los Angeles in 1979. Dio was seeking a new project and Iommi required a vocalist. Dio arrived at Iommi’s Los Angeles house for a relaxed, getting-to-know-you jam session. On that first day the duo wrote the song, “Children of the Sea”, which would appear on the Heaven and Hell album, the first the band recorded with Dio as vocalist, released in 1980.

In 1982, conflict arose over the mixing of the Live Evil album. Iommi asserted that the album’s engineer began complaining to him that he would work all day long on a mix, only to have Dio return to the studio at night to “do his own mix” in which his vocals were more prominent. This was denied by Dio. The conflict led to Dio and Appice ultimately quitting the band later that year. In 1992, Dio briefly returned to Black Sabbath to record the Dehumanizer album. The single “Time Machine” was featured in the movie Wayne’s World, the tenth highest-grossing film of 1992. Soon Dio and Appice again left the band, citing an inability to work with Iommi and Butler.

Dio

Wanting to continue together as a band, Ronnie James Dio and Vinny Appice formed Dio, the band, in 1982. Their debut album, Holy Diver, included the hit singles “Rainbow in the Dark” and “Holy Diver”, the album’s title track. The band added keyboardist Claude Schnell and recorded two more full-length studio albums, The Last in Line and Sacred Heart. A notable live recording, A Special From The Spectrum, was filmed during the band’s second world tour. They released ten albums, with Master of the Moon being the last one, recorded in 2004.

Heaven & Hell

In October 2006, it was confirmed that Dio would be joining Black Sabbath members Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler, and former Black Sabbath drummer Vinny Appice to tour under the moniker Heaven & Hell, the title of the first Dio era Black Sabbath album. They chose the name Heaven & Hell as Tony Iommi and Geezer Butler were still in Black Sabbath with Ozzy Osbourne and felt it was best to use a different moniker for the Dio version of the band. Original Black Sabbath drummer Bill Ward was to be involved in this project, but he later withdrew.

In October 2006, it was confirmed that Dio would be joining Black Sabbath members Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler, and former Black Sabbath drummer Vinny Appice to tour under the moniker Heaven & Hell, the title of the first Dio era Black Sabbath album. They chose the name Heaven & Hell as Tony Iommi and Geezer Butler were still in Black Sabbath with Ozzy Osbourne and felt it was best to use a different moniker for the Dio version of the band. Original Black Sabbath drummer Bill Ward was to be involved in this project, but he later withdrew.

Other projects

In 1974, Dio sang on the Roger Glover conducted and produced concept album The Butterfly Ball and the Grasshopper’s Feast. Along with other guest-singers, the album featured Deep Purple alumni Glenn Hughes and David Coverdale. Dio provided vocals for the songs “Homeward”, “Sitting in a Dream”, and the UK single Love Is All.

In 1980, Dio sang the tracks “To Live for the King” and “Mask of the Great Deceiver” on Kerry Livgren’s solo album, Seeds of Change.

In 1985, Dio contributed to the metal world’s answer to Band Aid and USA for Africa with the Hear ‘n Aid project. With a heavy metal all-star ensemble which was the brainchild of his fellow Dio band mates Vivian Campbell and Jimmy Bain, he sang some of the vocals on the single “Stars” and an album full of songs from other artists given to charity.

The project raised $1 million within a year.

In 1997, Dio made a cameo on Pat Boone’s In a Metal Mood: No More Mr. Nice Guy, an album of famous heavy metal songs played in big band style. Dio can be heard singing backup on Boone’s take of “Holy Diver”. In 1999, he was parodied in the TV show South Park, in the episode “Hooked on Monkey Fonics”, which he later went on to describe as “wonderful”.

In 1999, Dio participated in a significant Deep Purple project, In Concert with The London Symphony Orchestra, where he recorded cover versions of Deep Purple songs, and reprised his songs from the earlier The Butterfly Ball and the Grasshopper’s Feast album.

Tenacious D included a tribute song entitled “Dio” that appeared on their self-titled album. The song explains how he has to “pass the torch” for a new generation. Reportedly, Dio approved of it, and had Tenacious D appear in his video “Push” from Killing the Dragon in 2002. He also appeared in the film Tenacious D in The Pick of Destiny, playing himself.

In 2005, Dio was revealed to be the voice behind Dr. X in Operation: Mindcrime II, the sequel to Queensrÿche’s seminal concept album Operation: Mindcrime. His part was shown in a prerecorded video on the subsequent tour, and Ronnie appeared onstage to sing the part live on at least one occasion (both shown on the Mindcrime at the Moore DVD).

On January 17, 2007, he was inducted into the Rock Walk of Fame at Guitar Center on Hollywood’s Sunset Boulevard.

Dio is thanked in the end credits of the 2011 film Atlas Shrugged: Part I, due to his being “one of the people who kept the project alive.”

Personal life

Dio and his first wife, Loretta Berardi (born 1941), adopted a son, novelist Dan Padavona.

After divorcing Berardi, he married Wendy Gaxiola (born 1945) who also served as his manager. In the 1980s, she managed the Los Angeles rock bands Rough Cutt, and Hellion. Dio remained married to Gaxiola until his death.

 

Illness and death

On November 25, 2009, Wendy announced that Dio had been diagnosed with stomach cancer and was being treated at the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas, but that he would be back on stage when recovered.

On May 4, 2010, Heaven & Hell announced they were canceling all summer dates as a result of Dio’s ill health.His last live performance was with Heaven & Hell on August 29, 2009, in Atlantic City, New Jersey.

A statement made by Dio’s wife had stated that Dio had died at 7:45 am (CDT) on May 16, 2010, of metastasized stomach cancer, according to official sources.

A public memorial service was held on May 30, 2010 at The Hall of Liberty, Forest Lawn Hollywood Hills, Los Angeles. The hall was filled to capacity, with many more fans sitting outside the hall watching the memorial on multiple giant screens on both the east and south sides of the hall. Friends, family, and former and current band mates of Dio gave speeches and performed including Rudy Sarzo, Geoff Tate, John Payne, Glenn Hughes, Joey Belladonna, and Heaven & Hell keyboard player, Scott Warren. On the screen was an accompanying documentary covering Dio’s career from his early days with Elf to his final project with Heaven & Hell.

Discography

Rainbow

Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow (1975)
Rising (1976)
On Stage (1977)
Long Live Rock ‘n’ Roll (1978)
Finyl Vinyl (1986)
Live in Germany 1976 (1990)
Ritchie Blackmore: Rock Profile Volume Two (1991)
Live In Munich 1977 (2006)
Deutschland Tournee 1976 (2006)
Live In Cologne (2007)
Live In Düsseldorf (2007)
Live In Nurnberg (2007)
The Polydor Years: 1975-1986 (2007)

Black Sabbath

Heaven and Hell (1980)
Black And Blue (VHS) (1980)
Heavy Metal: Music from the Motion Picture (1981) (One track, an alternate take of “The Mob Rules”)
Mob Rules (1981)
Live Evil (1982)
Dehumanizer (1992)
Black Sabbath: The Dio Years (2007)
Live at Hammersmith Odeon (2007)
The Rules of Hell (Boxed Set) (2008)

Dio

Holy Diver (1983)
The Last in Line (1984)
Sacred Heart (1985)
Intermission (1986)
Dream Evil (1987)
Lock up the Wolves (1990)
Dio – Sacred Heart: The DVD (1991)
Diamonds – The Best of Dio
Strange Highways (1993)
Angry Machines (1996)
Inferno – Last in Live (1998)
Magica (2000)
The Very Beast of Dio (2000)
Killing the Dragon (2002)
Master of the Moon (2004)
We Rock ~ Dio (DVD 2005)
Evil or Divine – Live In New York City (2005)
Holy Diver – Live (2006)
The Very Beast of Dio Vol. 2 (2012) – (Posthumous)

Heaven & Hell

Live from Radio City Music Hall (2007)
The Devil You Know (2009)
Neon Nights: 30 Years of Heaven & Hell (2010)

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