The grand wizard of classic rock. A poet of hope for the downtrodden. The single most important vocal technician in the history of heavy metal. All of these accolades have been garlanded upon the royal roar known as Ronnie James Dio.
Born in New Hampshire, USA, Ronnie first achieved recognition singing with his own band Elf. Deep Purple's Roger Glover and Ian Paice spotted him in 1972, and Elf then supported the British band on several US tours. Ronnie later sang on Roger's famed solo project "The Butterfly Ball" in 1974 and then joined Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow. With his pioneering classical metal work in Rainbow, as well as his vocal pyrotechnics on two Black Sabbath monoliths (Heaven and Hell and Mob Rules), Ronnie used word and rhythm to seduce his way into the center ring during metal's thriving heyday.
His first solo offering, Holy Diver, was a brilliant display of melody and might that married Ronnie's immense vocal, lyrical and compositional acumen with the talents of a band chosen with almost Machiavellian insight.
Holy Diver quickly established the singer's hypnotizing skill for delivering messages that pierced the wild heart of the metal generation. Due to a wellspring of strength built from childhood struggles, Ronnie learned to soar with words, writing anthems to overcoming, paeans to personal power, and overtures to outcasts, all with a verve that stressed independence in the face of dark forces.
By the release of record ..2, The Last in Line, Dio was firing on all cylinders, packing stadiums with a visual and aural symphony: a pyramid stage set complete with a three-headed cobra and fighting sphinxes, and songs that spoke to an all too prevalent middle American reality. Good versus evil was Dio's unrelenting theme, and the band's muscle bound devil mascot, amusingly known as Murray, seemed to be winning. Next up for Ronnie was his reunion with Black Sabbath for 1992's Dehumanizer. The remainder of the 90's saw Dio releasing Strange Highways (1994), Angry Machines (1996), and a live offering in Inferno/Last in Live (1998). The year 2000 saw guitarist Craig Goldy returning to the fold as the Dio clan released Magica, a concept album. Magica was hailed as the band's "comeback" album and received glowing reviews. Following a hugely successful tour of Europe, USA and Japan, Ronnie found himself teaming up with his old mates from Deep Purple to perform songs from the "Butterfly Ball" and his new - masterpiece, in conjunction with a 79 piece orchestraan unforgettable experience! Shortly thereafter, Goldy once again retreated, and former Hurricane/Lion axeman Doug Aldrich joined the band for 2002's Killing the Dragon, a classic Dio masterpiece, and the Evil or Divine DVD filmed live at New York's Roseland Theater. A tour with Deep Purple and the Scorpions followed. After Aldrich's defection to Whitesnake, Goldy returned once again and set to working on a whirlwind year of touring with Iron Maiden & Motorhead, followed by the writing and recording of 2004's Master of the Moon, coinciding with a world tour. 2005 saw a brief return of Aldrich stepping in to pinch hit for an injured Goldy during the "Holy Diver Live" tour, which resulted in a live CD and DVD of the same name.
Ronnie James Dio died on May 16, 2010 at 7:45am, of stomach cancer. His wife, Wendy Dio, commented "Today my heart is broken, Ronnie passed away at 7:45am 16th May. Many, many friends and family were able to say their private good-byes 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 give us a few days of privacy to deal with this terrible loss. Please know he loved you all and his music will live on forever."