Ronnie James Dio

Ronnie James Dio was a heavy metal vocalist and God amongst men. He was a pioneer in many areas of metal, including the Devil's Horns sign, having an awesome voice, and being extremely classy. Also, his last name is Italian for God.

Dio slayed dragons in his spare time.

This was him rocking out at 67, an age where most old people just sit around and play cards.

For his album Holy Diver, Dio said that Demon was the one in the water. He was a man of perspective.

Just The Facts

  1. Ronnie James Dio was a Metal God.
  2. He replaced Ozzy Osborne in Black Sabbath.
  3. He once sat out in the rain for three hours, just so fans who were in line could get his autograph.
  4. No, seriously, let that sink in. Dude sat out in the rain for three hours when most of us would have been crying like a baby after 30 seconds.

Dio: The Early Years

According to Wikipedia "Ronnie James Dio was born Ronald James Padavona in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, an only child in an Italian-American family. They lived in Portsmouth until the family moved to Cortland, New York early in his life. His parents raised him in the Roman Catholic church, an experience he found unsatisfactory." For starters, his name was significantly less awesome then. For seconds, he was an Italian Roman-Catholic, but he found Catholicism unsatisfactory. Not just boring, but it did not satisfy him, and he was coming from Catholicism's main target audience.

The type of Catholicism Dio would find satisfactory.

Anyway, while a kid he played trumpet and French horn, and was in many rockabilly bands. Then, he decided these weren't nearly cool enough and played bass and sang in The Vegas Kings, which he renamed Ronnie and the Red Caps, because it sounds far less like some hardcore punk band from Wisconsin and more like awesome. Padavona then later attended the University of Buffalo, but left because he found it too, unsatisfactory. After leaving, Juilliard School of Music offered him a scholarship, but he turned it down because instead of playing classical music, he wished to go forth and rock.

The Elf & Rainbow Years

During the late 50's and early 60's, Padavona played around with the Red Caps (who later changed their name to Ronnie and the Prophets). Around this time, Padavona decided the name Ronald James Padavona sounded a little un-Metal and too fancy for a rocker, so he changed it to Ronnie James Dio, taking the Dio after famous mobster Johhny Dio, because mafia members are badasses. However, shortly after, The Prophets broke up, so Dio and guitarists Nick Pantas & David Feinstein went on to form Elf.

Did we say Elf? Because that looks more like some angry demon than a Keebler elf.

Elf recorded three pretty good albums, produced by Deep Purple members Ian Paice and Roger Glover, but Pantas had died, killing the always awesome duel-guitar player combo. In 1973, Feinstein quit too, leading Dio to get Steve Edwards to join for them while they opened for Deep Purple. However, the notoriously somewhat crazy Ritchie Blackmore was gaining a distaste of his super band and promptly quit Deep Purple. Looking for musicians to join his band Rainbow, he decided it would just be easier to kick Edwards out of Elf and rename it. Thus, Dio became the only man in existence to make two very unmanly band names manly.

Their badass stage inspired the likes of Kanye West to have shiny lights on their stage. But their's suck.

With Rainbow, Dio had started writing medieval fantasy themed music to go with Blackmore's classical sounding music. However, Blackmore decided he ended up not liking this, which Dio thought was freaking stupid, especially since Blackmore had given the band it's initial direction. Deciding that this was a boring way to go, Dio left to join a small, unheard of band who had an opening.

Did I say small, unheard of band? Because I totally meant Black Sabbath.

Black Sabbath

After Black Sabbath released not-so-great albums Technical Ecstasy and Never Say Die they fired Ozzy Osbourne, because his drinking was being detrimental to the band. Looking for a vocalist, Sharon Arden (later Shaaaaron Osbourne) recommended Dio, and a match made in Heaven & Hell happened. As guitarist Tony Iommi claimed "They were totally different altogether. Not only voice-wise, but attitude-wise. Ozzy was a great showman, but when Dio came in, it was a different attitude, a different voice and a different musical approach, as far as vocals. Dio would sing across the riff, whereas Ozzy would follow the riff, like in "Iron Man". Ronnie came in and gave us another angle on writing." See, Dio made the riffs follow him, whereas Ozzy was content just singing along with it, much like how every single teenager today feels the need to sing guitar parts. Regardless, Dio served an immediate impact, and it was in the form of Heaven & Hell, which is one of those perfect albums that if you haven't listened to, do so now before continuing. OK, done? In addition to recording the less critically acclaimed (but still awesome) The Mob Rules, Dio had to follow Osbourne's lead of throwing up a peace sign at concerts. Not wanting to be a copy cat, he used the "Corna" that his grandmother used to ward off the evil eye. Did we mention the "Corna" are the devil's horns? Because this is the badass that popularized it.

Peace Sign vs. The Devil's Horns: The Horns win.

However, after doing this awesome work for three years, Dio got fed up with people trying to dictate his singing style, claiming "When it comes time for the vocal, nobody tells me what to do. Nobody! Because they're not as good as me, so I do what I want to do." And you know what? He was right. Dio quit Sabbath and went to form his own band, Dio.

Dio & Later Projects

Now having left Sabbath, Dio released Holy Diver, which contains the titular track and Dio's signature song. While he never re-achieved his mega stardom, he was still a driving force in metal. In 1985 Dio arranged Hear N' Aid and "Stars", the metal equivalent of USA for Africa and "We Are the World" and it was awesome. While with Dio, Dio released a number of albums until 2004, where he took his leave from Dio and proceeded to have a number of other projects that involved appearing on other peoples albums, because his epic voice was in high demand. Tenacious D (Jack Black & the Fat Guy) wrote a song called "Dio" about how he had rocked for so long, and it was time to pass the torch. Dio said "fuck that" because Tenacious D later had him prove to be the inspiration for young Black to go forth and rock.

"I am far past the recommended rocking age! Yet I rock harder than all!"

Other things Dio did included having tribute albums for him by many bands and singing on Queensryche's Operation: Mindcrime II.

Heaven & Hell & Death

In 2006, Dio and his former bandmates from Black Sabbath decided to reunite, but under the name Heaven & Hell. In 2009, they finally released The Devil You Know, which has music as ominous as it's cover is shit-your-pants-scary.

Holy fuck.

Keep in mind, Dio was 66 at the time of recording this album and he still sounded like a fucking metal god.

Sadly, after recording the album, Dio was diagnosed with stomach cancer, and on May 16, twelve days after the Heaven & Hell concerts were cancelled, Dio passed away, and he is presumably Breaking into Heaven as we speak.

Rest in Peace, you God of Metal.