The Little King – Larger Than Life: Ronnie James Dio

by on Mar.22, 2011, under Horror Show Hosts

Sad news for Heavy Metal fans the world over. Ronnie James Dio died at 7:45am, Sunday morning, May 16th.

Ronnie James Dio was born Ronald James Padavona on July 10th, 1942, in Portsmouth, NH. He began his career in Rock -N- Roll in 1957, as a bass player in a band called the Vegas Kings. Before long, he made the transition to lead vocalist, and changed the name of the band to Ronnie And The Rumblers. The band changed their name once again to Ronnie And The Red Caps, and cut a single in 1958 on Reb Records. In 1961, Padavona adopted the last name Dio, taking the name from infamous Mafia member Johnny Dio. In 1967, Dio formed a band named The Electric Elves, shortening the name in 1969 to Elf.

As a member of Elf, Ronnie James Dio opened for the legendary Deep Purple, where he made a lasting impression on guitar hero Ritchie Blackmore. When Blackmore left Deep Purple, feeling that the band had become too commercial, and formed (Blackmore’s) Rainbow, he recruited Dio as lead singer, and history was made. “Man On The Silver Mountain,” off of their debut album, became an instant hit, and Dio stayed with Rainbow until 1979. Dio’s reason for leaving Rainbow? Ironically enough, leader Ritchie Blackmore wanted to take the band in a more commercial direction.

Around the same time Dio became dissatisfied with Rainbow, Black Sabbath’s Tony Iommi, and Geezer Butler, fired Ozzy Osbourne for his out of control drinking. Ronnie James Dio stepped in as vocalist, and recorded 2 of Sabbath’s finest albums, “Heaven And Hell,” and “The Mob Rules.” It was during his original 1979 – 1982 tenure as Black Sabbath vocalist that Dio adopted the ages old “Devil Horns” gesture, used in olden days as a method to ward off the “evil eye,”as a greeting to his audiences, and created a symbol that instantly became synonymous with Heavy Metal music.

As the replacement for Ozzy, Dio came under scrutiny by longtime Sabbath fans, fans who argue to this day as to whom was the better lead singer for the band. People need to realize that there is a difference between being a singer, and being a vocalist. I’m far from alone in the opinion that Ronnie James Dio was the best *singer* that Black Sabbath ever had. Ozzy may have the majority of classic Sabbath songs to his credit, but, Dio sang many of them better, especially their theme song, which became a much more evil sounding tune when sung with Dio’s incredible pipes.

After a falling out with Sabbath’s Butler and Iommi, Dio went on to form his own group, naming it after himself. Throughout the years, Dio would come to alternate between working with his own group, and Black Sabbath, the latest incarnation of which was called Heaven And Hell.

Yesterday, Ronnie James Dio succumbed to stomach cancer, and it was the loss of every Heavy Metal fan, and Heaven’s gain. When I think of the classic singers of Heavy Metal, I think of Rob Halford, Bruce Dickinson, and Ronnie James Dio. Ronnie James Dio will be sorely missed, and never, ever, forgotten.

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