REMEMBERING RONNIE JAMES DIO on the 8th Anniversary of his Passing!

Eight years ago today we lost American singer – songwriter, RONNIE JAMES DIO. He fronted and/or founded numerous groups including Elf, Rainbow, Black Sabbath, DioEight years ago , and Heaven & Hell. He is credited with popularizing the “metal horns” hand gesture in metal culture and was known for his medieval-themed lyrics. Dio possessed a powerful versatile vocal range capable of singing both hard rock and lighter ballads.

Dio’s musical career began in 1957, when several Cortland, New York musicians formed the band, The Vegas Kings. The group’s lineup consisted of Dio on bass guitar, Billy DeWolfe on lead vocals, Nick Pantas on guitar, Tom Rogers on drums, and Jack Musci on saxophone.

In 1958, the band again changed their name from Ronnie & The Rumblers to Ronnie and the Redcaps. Musci left the band in 1960, and a new guitarist, Dick Botoff, joined the lineup. The Redcaps released two singles: The first single was “Conquest”/”Lover” with the A-side being an instrumental reminiscent of The Ventures and the B-side featuring DeWolfe on lead vocals. The second single was “An Angel Is Missing”/”What’d I Say” which featured Dio on lead vocals for both tracks.

Explanations vary for how Padavona adopted the stage name “Dio”. One story is that Dio was a reference to mafia member Johnny Dio.  Another has it that Padavona’s grandmother said he had a gift from God and should be called “Dio” (“God” in Italian), although this was debunked by Padavona’s widow, Wendy, in a February 2017 interview. Padavona first used the name on a recording in 1960, when he added it to the band’s second release on Seneca. Soon after that the band modified their name to Ronnie Dio and the Prophets. The Prophets lineup lasted for several years, touring throughout the New York region and playing college fraternity parties. They produced one single for Atlantic and one album. Some of the singles (such as “Mr. Misery”, released on Swan) were labeled as being by Ronnie Dio as a solo artist even if the rest of the Prophets contributed to the recording. The group released several singles during the following years until early 1967. Dio continued to use his birth name on any songwriting credits on those releases.

In late 1967, Ronnie Dio and the Prophets transformed into a new band called The Electric Elves and added a keyboard player. After recovering from a deadly car accident in February 1968 (which killed guitarist Nick Pantas and put Dio and the other band members briefly in the hospital), the group shortened its name to The Elves and used that name until mid-1972, when it released its first proper album under the name Elf. Over the next few years, the group went on to become a regular opening act for Deep Purple. Elf recorded three albums until the members’ involvement recording the first Rainbow album in early 1975 resulted in Elf disbanding.

In 2009, Dio was diagnosed with stomach cancer and underwent treatment at the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas, but that he would be back on stage when recovered.

On May 4, 2010, Heaven & Hell announced they were canceling all summer dates as a result of Dio’s ill health.  His last live performance was with Heaven & Hell on August 29, 2009, in Atlantic City, New Jersey.

A statement made by Dio’s wife had stated that Dio had died at 7:45 am (CDT) on May 16, 2010, of metastasized stomach cancer, according to official sources.

A public memorial service was held on May 30, 2010 at The Hall of Liberty, Forest Lawn Hollywood Hills, Los Angeles. The hall was filled to capacity, with many more fans sitting outside the hall watching the memorial on multiple giant screens on both the east and south sides of the hall. Friends, family, and former and current band mates of Dio gave speeches and performed including Rudy Sarzo, Geoff Tate, John Payne, Glenn Hughes, Joey Belladonna, and Heaven & Hell keyboard player, Scott Warren. On the screen was an accompanying documentary covering Dio’s career from his early days with Elf to his final project with Heaven & Hell.

Dio’s career spanned more than 50 years. During this period, and particularly in the 21st century, he received a number of distinctions and awards. He was inducted into the Cortland City Hall of Fame in 2004, and has a street named after him there called Dio Way. Classic Rock Magazine awarded Dio with the “Metal Guru Award” at their yearly “Roll of Honour” awards ceremony in 2006. On January 17, 2007, Dio was inducted into Guitar Center’s Rock Walk of Fame in Hollywood. Dio was named “Best Metal Singer” at the Revolver Golden Gods Awards in April 2010 for his work on The Devil You Know, making him the oldest recipient of this award at age 67. He accepted the award in person at what was to be his final public appearance, one month just before his death.  The main stage of Bloodstock Open Air is also named after him in tribute after Heaven & Hell pulled out upon his death. Also the main stage on Masters of Rock festival carries his name since summer 2010. A Dio monument has been unveiled in Kavarna, Bulgaria. In Mexico the biggest metal fest was named “Hell and Heaven” in honor of Dio; the organization says that the festival was named that way since they had worked with Dio, referring to him as “the greatest singer and person we ever had worked with, a really humble person.”

Rolling Stone magazine eulogized Dio with these words: “It wasn’t just his mighty pipes that made him Ronnie James Dio — it was his moral fervor…what always stood out was Dio’s raging compassion for the lost rock & roll children in his audience. Dio never pretended to be one of the kids — he sang as an adult assuring us that we weren’t alone in our suffering, and some day we might even be proud of conquering it”.

A short street called Dio Way in Dio’s hometown of Cortland, New York was named for him. On July 10, 2011, in parallel to Ronnie’s birthday, Cortland held a day-long event featuring many central New York local bands and talent for a benefit to the Stand Up and Shout Cancer foundation for cancer research and Dio Memorial concert. Part of the proceeds from the event went to fund a memorial music scholarship for the local city high-school in his name.

On March 31, 2014, the tribute album Ronnie James Dio This Is Your Life was released. It was organized and produced by Wendy Gaxiola, with album proceeds benefitting the Ronnie James Dio Stand Up and Shout Cancer Fund.

On August 6, 2016, a hologram of the singer, created by Eyellusion, made its live debut at the Wacken Open Air Festival.   A second hologram was created for a subsequent world tour, which began on December 6, 2017 in Bochum, Germany and is expected to continue into 2018.

On January 18, 2017, Ronnie was inducted into the Hall of Heavy Metal History

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