Ronnie James Dio died 7 years and a day ago today, his premature departure from this earth caused by the awful ‘C’ word.
It’s going to be difficult referring to Ronnie without talking about that unique, awesome voice of his, but he not only had such a wonderful talent vocally, but also lent his voice to and created some of the all-time rock and metal classics. As someone who was born in the 80s, I’m utterly jealous of those who were around to here Dio when he first burst onto the scene – I mean, how many other vocalists were doing what he was doing back then? An upbringing which consisted of training as an Opera singer and mastering the trumpet would eventually lead Dio to be a strong, professional frontman which would rightfully cement his place in rock and metal legend.
The aficionados out there will know his work with Elf, where his voice sounded rich and accomplished – no mean feat when one considers the production standards of the early 70s.
He came to the mainstream when he became the vocalist of the newly-formed Rainbow – he came to the attention of band leader, Ritchie Blackmore. Let’s face it, when you have someone of that stature and who has such high expectations, you must be good. ‘Man On The Silver Mountain’ and ‘Kill The King’ remain rock classics 40 years on.
After his spell with Rainbow ended, he shocked the rock world when he replaced the seemingly irreplaceable Ozzy Osbourne as Black Sabbath’s vocalist. I can only imagine what Ronnie was feeling before he stepped out in front of the thousands of Ozzy worshippers on that first night. However, being flawlessly professional vocally, he gave Sabbath a new depth and renewed energy for the two stints he did with them. Check out ‘Neon Nights’ and ‘Mob Rules’ for a flavour of the Dio-era Sabbath.
Dio then went on to continue his success after his first stint with Sabbath, this time with his own solo career. With a group of professional musicians behind him, he enjoyed worldwide acclaim, helped by the barnstormers of songs such as ‘Holy Diver’ and ‘We Rock’. This allowed Ronnie to flourish as an artist and elevate himself as a well-loved personality.
He put his voice to countless other projects throughout his career, most humourously so on Tenacious D’s ‘Kickapoo’, complimented by a must-see music video, which showed how, even in his last year’s, how he didn’t take himself seriously one iota.
If he was still alive, he would have been 67 years old and I would put money on the fact that he would still be belting them out and putting most other metal vocalists to shame. RIP RONNIE JAMES DIO.