Renowned vocalist Ronnie James Dio passed away on 16 May from stomach cancer. He was 67.
Dio was a much-loved metal singer, diminutive in size but expansive in vocal range. From Elf, to Rainbow, Black Sabbath, and fronting his own band, Dio never buckled to passing trends and made pretty much the same type of fantasy based metal that hit its prime in the late 1970s and 1980s. Although his type of metal was eclipsed by grunge music in the 1990s, Dio nevertheless continued to produce the same sort of mystical metal till his death.
Ronnie James Dio came to prominence with Rainbow. While Rainbow’s nominal frontman was Richie Blackmore, Dio’s distinctive vocals immediately become a huge selling point; Rainbow’s first 2 albums are rightly considered masterpieces in the classic rock / hard rock genre. When Ozzy Osbourne quit Black Sabbath, Dio became his replacement. While Dio was never going to be able to replace Ozzy as the iconic Sabbath vocalist, he did manage several solid albums with a deteriorating Sabbath. A few years ago, a nice compilation of Dio’s Sabbath years was released.
In 1983, Dio formed his own band and released the classic 1980s metal album Holy Diver. Holy Diver is one of the best metal albums from the 1980s and features an extremely solid band with lead guitarist Vivian Campbell (previously Thin Lizzy, would then join Whitesnake and eventually Def Leppard) at the pinnacle of his guitar shredding days.
Here is a clip of the band performing their hit Rainbow In The Dark off their debut album Holy Diver. The performance was recorded off a late night television show shortly after the release of the album, and features Ronnie James Dio at the peak of his career. More clips of Dio.
Last year, Dio reunited with his Black Sabbath band mates. Heaven and Hell was essentially Black Sabbath Mk II and their 2009 album The Devil You Know was a welcome return to form.