In Memoriam: Ronnie James Dio

Posted on November 18, 2010 by

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In the world of metal music, many fans were sadly shocked by the recent death of Ronnie James Dio. For those not familiar with his work, he was an Italian-American heavy-metal vocalist and songwriter. Throughout his life, he established a name for himself, but he is most popularly remembered for his signature devil horns and as Ozzy Osbourne’s replacement in Black Sabbath.

Dio is from Portsmouth, New Hampshire, but he moved to Cortland, New York, early in life. As a child, he played the trumpet and French horn. In high school, he played bass in a band called “The Vegas Kings,” but this ensemble later became Ronnie and the Red Caps. Their first single was in 1958 on Reb Records.

Dio attended The University at Buffalo, majoring in pharmacy during 1960-1961. He was offered a scholarship to Julliard School of Music, but he did not pursue it because of his undying love of rock ‘n roll.

In 1979, Dio replaced Ozzy Osbourne in Black Sabbath and released the highly successful album “Heaven and Hell” in 1980. In 1982, Black Sabbath drummer Vinny Appice left the band with Dio to form a group named simply Dio.

The band’s debut album contained “Holy Diver” and is still one of Ronnie’s signature songs. Over the years, band members changed, but Dio remained a regular. Dio also played with Elf, Rainbow, and Heaven and Hell (the new incarnation of Black Sabbath).

On May 4th, 2010, Heaven and Hell announced they were canceling all summer dates because of Dio’s sickness. He was diagnosed with stomach cancer, and, on November 25th, 2009, his wife Wendy announced the sad news.

“Ronnie has been diagnosed with the early stages of stomach cancer,” said Dio’s wife.  “We are starting treatment immediately at the Mayo Clinic. After he kills this dragon, Ronnie will be back on stage, where he belongs, doing what he loves best, performing for his fans. Long live rock and roll, long live Ronnie James Dio. Thanks to all his friends and fans from all over the world that have sent well wishes, this has really helped to keep his spirit up.”

Ronnie died at 7:45 a.m. on May 16th, 2010, of stomach cancer.

His wife Wendy stated, “Today my heart is broken.  Ronnie passed away at 7:45 a.m. on May 16th. Many, many friends and family were able to say their private goodbyes before he peacefully passed away. Ronnie knew how much he was loved by all. We so appreciate the love and support that you have all given us. Please know he loved you all and his music will live on forever.”

He was merely 67.  As a true musical icon, his music will be remembered for the way it shaped much of modern metal culture.

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