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Live the King
by Brad (a.k.a. Stoney)
The year was 1982 and I was listening to my local radio station play this killer, heavy song, and thought to myself, I know I've heard that song before, but it never sounded like that - this was really HEAVY! I called the radio station and asked what song they just played and it was 'Children of the Grave' by Black Sabbath with Ronnie James Dio on vocals from the album Live Evil. I bought the album as quickly as I could and shortly thereafter, purchased 'Heaven and Hell' and 'The Mob Rules'. I had already heard the songs 'Heaven and Hell' and 'Mob Rules' and loved them, but didn't own either album previously. I listened to those three Sabbath albums non-stop until I had heard Dio was releasing a solo album.
I purchased a copy of Holy Diver on tape the day it came out from the local independent record shop. I played that tape until I wore it out several months later, at which time I immediately purchased a new copy. I spent the next few years tracking down everything I could find with Ronnie on vocals, including the Rainbow and Elf albums. I have been an avid fan of Ronnie since and have made it a point to purchase each new album as it was released.
Holy Diver set the bar for metal vocalists thereafter for me. No one had that kind of power in their voice before (except maybe Ian Gillan from Deep Purple). I have spent the better part of the last 25 years attempting to find something that could match it, and while I've purchased thousands of albums since, I still have not found a vocalist who commands attention like Ronnie. Sure, there are loads of great singers out there, but it's just not the same. Obviously I'm in the Dio camp where the age old argument about who the best Sabbath vocalist was - even the Ozzy-era Sabbath songs sounded better and heavier with Dio on vocals - Live Evil is the proof.
I feel privileged to have seen him live three times (e.g., 85 and 93 as Dio and 92 with Sabbath) in concert. He was so amazing live, which is something that many singers cannot say. You can tell a truly great artists by their live performances and Dio was always top-notch. The 1985 still stands to this day as the show with the most pyrotechnics at a single concert. I think that was also the show where my ears were permanently damaged. The 1992 Sabbath show was so amazing. I decided to tape the show and it turned out fantastic, so I have a little piece of history. The last time in the mid-90s was amazing because it was a smaller venue and was much more intimate because you were so close to the stage. Even more amazing was the fact that Ronnie gave it his all each time, whether it was 10,000, 2,500, or 500, he gave 110% every time. Of the nearly 50 live shows I have on tape with Dio on vocals, I don't think he ever gave a bad performance.
I'm going to miss him dearly. I would have never gotten into metal music if it were not for Ronnie, as I was listening to Zeppelin, Kiss, AC/DC, etc. prior to discovering his music. I have been listening to everything from ELF to his solo stuff since his passing and realize this music will never be outdated, and will never die - Long live the king!
See the Dio page here.
James Dio - The Man Who Would be King
If you found this site, you're likely a Heavy Metal fan. If you're a Heavy Metal fan, likely you know that on May 16, 2010, the world of music lost a true legend; a giant among men, Ronald James Padavona (Ronnie James Dio, or just Dio).
You have also likely already explored at least a brief bio or two from one of the many sources on the web. So... rather than put together yet another biography, I thought I would spend a little time paying tribute to this man, who truly helped to change music as we know it.
A brief history of his 53 years in music (yes... 53 years):
1957 - The Vegas Kings
1958 - Ronnie and the Rumblers
1958 - Ronnie and the Redcaps
1962 - Ronnie Dio and the Prophets
1967 - The Electric Elves
1969 - The Elves
1970 - Elf
1975 - Rainbow
1979 - Black Sabbath
1982 - Dio
1991 - Black Sabbath
1993 - Dio
2006 - Black Sabbath
2006 - 2010 - Heaven and Hell
I know of no other figure in the world of Hard/Heavy music that has such a lengthy and diverse recorded history. Dio's love for good ole Rock 'n' Roll (Rockabilly as it was back then) was the beginning. Fifty-three years later, he passes on to us a musical legacy that will never die.
By 1975, Ronnie had been around nearly 20 years, fine-tuning his epic, powerhouse of a voice, his song-writing, his ability to assemble and lead a great band... So, when none other than Ritchie Blackmore decided he wanted to take a different direction, it is no surprise that he looked to Dio (and Elf).
What Ritchie and Dio did with Rainbow was nothing short of incredible. They created some of the most epic, enduring music in all of Heavy music. This is, of course, what Ronnie did for the rest of his career; Rainbow; Black Sabbath, Dio, and Heaven & Hell.
I first heard Ronnie (I'm 42) in 1981 while he was in Sabbath. His voice... his voice... it... just blew me away. SO powerful. targeted. throaty. incredible. Clearly, he had (and it is difficult for me to say 'had') a voice that was ideal for Heavy Music. Who else could have given the title track to Heaven and Hell the voice necessary to take it from great song to classic; even epic? From the time I first heard him, I was on a mission to obtain everything that he did. So now, my collection is pretty much complete; from him covering "Love Potion No. 9" in the Prophets to his final reunion with the guys from Black Sabbath under the 'Heaven and Hell' moniker. At the end of this commentary, I offer my list of Dio 'must haves' for you to consider.
One of the things that made Dio so universal and far-reaching, in my opinion, was his love of good music. It was obvious in his work; especially in his live shows. I was fortunate enough to see him live; (though only twice) as Dio and then again in 2007 in Heaven and Hell. I have seen many, many concerts over the years... but, Dio was able to do something I've never experienced in all the shows I've been to: silence a crowd of 12,000+ people. I mean... complete silence. His stage charisma was nearly untouched; putting him in league with the likes of Jim Morrison. In a few short years, he will be on the short list when people discuss "who would you see live if it could be anyone, alive or no longer with us."
In short, I would like to extend a very heart-felt thank you to Ronnie James Dio.
He brought us a tremendous catalog of music; many of his albums will be on our 'top 10, 25, 50' lists for generations. There are not very many people that will be on those lists, much less in multiple places on those lists. So... I will celebrate Ronnie James Dio's life and his contributions to music; to my love of Heavy music; to the world that is Heavy Metal.
Ronnie, thank you. I just don't have the words...
Essential Ronnie James Dio:
• Rainbow - Rising
• Black Sabbath - Heaven and Hell
• Rainbow - Live in Germany - 1976
• Dio - Holy Diver
• Dio - Last in Line
• Black Sabbath - Mob Rules
• Black Sabbath - Live at the Hammersmith Odeon
• Rainbow - Long Live Rock 'n' Roll
• Elf - Trying to Burn the Sun
• Dio - Holy Diver Live
Note: the list above is not in any particular order.
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