Ronnie James Dio, RIP
Ronnie James Dio has passed away after a battle against cancer.
In a statement, wife/manager Wendy Dio said: “Today my heart is broken, Ronnie passed away at 7:45 a.m. on May 16. 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 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.”
An all-time great, Dio was born in 1942. He first released a record in 1958 under the band name of Ronnie & The Red Caps. But he made his name in the early 1970s with Elf. From there, he achieved legendary status with Rainbow, Black Sabbath, Dio and Heaven & Hell. Dio was also the person who brought the devil horn sign into metal, when he joined Sabbath.
Last year, the iconic vocalist was diagnosed with stomach cancer, but it was felt this had been caught early enough to ensure successful treatment. And Heaven & Hell even booked a series of summer festival dates in the UK and Europe – including a slot at Classic Rock‘s High Voltage festival.
However, these apperances were cancelled earlier this month, when it became obvious that Dio simply wasn’t well enough.
Tributes have poured in from the world of rock and metal. Here is just a selection:
Ritchie Blackmore – “Ronnie had a unique and wonderful voice. He will be sadly missed in the rock and roll world.”
Lars Ulrich – “Dear Ronnie,
“I just got off stage in Zagreb. I was met with the news that you’ve passed on. I’m kind of in shock, but I wanted you to know that you were one of the main reasons I made it onto that stage to begin with.
“When I first saw you in Elf, opening for Deep Purple in 1975, I was completely blown away by the power in your voice, your presence on stage, your confidence, and the ease with which you seemed to connect to 6,000 Danish people and one starry-eyed 11-year-old, most of whom were not familiar with Elf’s music. The following year, I was so psyched when I heard the results of you joining forces with my favourite guitar player. You guys sounded so right for each other and I instantly became Rainbow’s #1 fan in Denmark.
“In the fall of 1976, when you played your first show in Copenhagen, I was literally in the front row and the couple of times we made eye contact you made me feel like the most important person in the world. The news that you guys were staying in town on your day off somehow embedded itself in my brain and I made the pilgrimage to the Plaza Hotel to see if I could somehow grab a picture, an autograph, a moment, anything. A few hours later you came out and were so kind and caring… pictures, autographs and a couple minutes of casual banter. I was on top of the world, inspired and ready for anything. Rainbow came to Copenhagen a couple more times over the next few years and each time you guys blew my mind, and for a good three years were my absolute favourite band on this planet.
“Over the years I’ve been fortunate enough to run into you a half dozen times or so and each time you were as kind, caring and gracious as you were in 1976 outside the hotel.
“When we finally got a chance to play together in Austria in 2007, even though I may not have let on, I was literally transformed back to that little snot-nosed kid who you met and inspired 31 years earlier and it was such a fucking honour and a dream come true to share a stage with you and the rest of the legends in Heaven & Hell.
“A couple of weeks ago when I heard that you were not going to be able to make it to the Sonisphere shows that we would be sharing this June, I wanted to call you and let you know that I was thinking of you and wish you well, but I kind of pussied out, thinking the last thing you needed in your recovery was feeling obligated to take a phone call from a Danish drummer/fan boy. I wish I’d made that call.
“We will miss you immensely on the dates, and we will be thinking of you with great admiration and affection during that run. It seemed so right to have you out on tour with the so-called ‘Big Four’ since you obviously were one of the main reasons that the four bands even exist.
“Your ears will definitely be burning during those two weeks because all of us will be talking, reminiscing and sharing stories about how knowing you has made our lives that much better.
“Ronnie, your voice impacted and empowered me, your music inspired and influenced me, and your kindness touched and moved me. Thank you.
Kiss – “We mourn the tragic passing of the great Ronnie James Dio. In addition to his powerhouse vocal ability, Ronnie was a true gentleman who always emanated great warmth and friendship to us and everyone around him. We will miss him.”
Judas Priest – “We are filled with great sadness at the terrible news about our friend Ronnie James Dio.
“Our condolences and love go to Wendy and Ronnie’s family.
“Ronnie was a wonderful man and will be sorely missed.”
Slash – “His music will live for eternity”.
David Coverdale – “So very sad to hear of Ronnie’s passing… My thoughts, prayers and condolence to his family and friends.”
Scott Ian – “Rest in peace, Ronnie James Dio. Horns at half mast. Such a huge loss…
“So many memories of Ronnie. Toured together many times. He always had a kind word and a smile and he LOVED the Yankees.
“In 2004 on the Dio/Anthrax tour I would get the Yankee score every inning for Ronnie while he was on stage. He was so into it.
“Saw Black Sabbath on the ‘Black & Blue’ tour (Black Sabbath and Blue Oyster Cult) at Madison Square Garden, in 1980. First row centre.
“Ronnie was king of the world. Top three shows of all time.”
Twisted Sister – “The members of Twisted Sister, along with millions of metal fans around the world, mourn the death of our friend Ronnie James Dio. Ronnie not only was a giant in the worldwide metal scene, but he was also one of the nicest people you would ever want to meet. Beginning in 1983 when we first toured with Ronnie in Canada, and continuing over the last seven years when we played dozens of festivals around the world, Ronnie was one of the most supportive and gracious members of the music community.”
Glenn Hughes – “It is a very sad day today… I have lost a very dear friend.
“Ronnie was a true leader of heavy metal… an icon and a visionary… There will never be another like him.
“Ronnie gave me wisdom, and showed me great compassion when he was in Elf, all those years ago, when we were on tour together in my time in Deep Purple. He was a beautiful soul, kind, considerate and a wonderful teacher.
“Some day I’ll be bringing your microphone up there with me, and we’ll sing a song, and share a Vindaloo together…
“I’ll miss, you mate.”
Sebastian Bach – “Crying right now in remembrance of my hero and friend, Ronnie James Dio.
“Dio died this morning and he was a major, major part of my life. I got to do shows with him and work with him and I loved Dio my whole life.
“Thanks so much.
“The world has lost one of the best.
“Your last album was your best. Of course.”
But the best tribute Classic Rock can pay is to urge you to celebrate the man’s immense musical contribution. For instance:
Tags: Black Sabbath, Blue Oyster Cult, David Coverdale, Dio, Elf, Glenn Hughes, Heaven & Hell, Judas Priest, Kiss, Lars Ulrich, Rainbow, Ritchie Blackmore, Ronnie & The Red Caps, Ronnie James Dio, Scott Ian, Sebastian bach, Slash, Twisted Sister