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Dio/Ronnie James Dio


Ronnie James Dio (Ronald James Padavona) had an impressive career arc. Each band was more successful than the previous one. And while no one forgot Ozzy Osbourne, Dio's stint with Black Sabbath was impressive. So much so, it allowed him to front a band that bore his name (or at least his stage name). And after being relegated to the has-been category Dio came roaring back with Heaven And Hell - essentially the Black Sabbath line-up he had once fronted.

Like many other performers, Dio's story actually begins with somebody else. Osbourne's (excessive) drug use had put him at odds with his Black Sabbath bandmates. At one point Ozzy left but returned a short time later, only to leave again. This time seemingly for good. That left Tony Iommi (guitar), Geezer Butler (bass) and Bill Ward (drums) with the unenviable task of finding a replacement for their already legendary frontman. They selected Dio.

Dio, born in New Hampshire and raised in Cortland, New York, was the vocalist for Elf. The group's major claim to fame was as an opening act for Deep Purple. Guitarist Ritchie Blackmore, dissatisfied with the direction Deep Purple was headed, asked Dio to join Blackmore's Rainbow (later Rainbow). From Rainbow, Dio moved to Sabbath. His run with the group spanned '79 - '82. During that time "Heaven & Hell," "Mob Rules" and "Live Evil" rolled out and Dio became famous for his "devil's horns" gesture - the index and little fingers pointed up with the middle fingers held down by the thumb. According to legend, Dio's grandmother used the gesture to ward off a curse, the devil or other unwanted apparitions.

Amid all sorts of rancor, Dio left Sabbath taking the band's current drummer Vinny Appice. The two launched Dio (Italian for "God"). The group started incredibly strong with the '83 effort "Holy Diver." But from there the quality dropped significantly as the group pushed out an album a year: "Last In Line" ('84), "Sacred Heart" ('85), the live "Intermission" ('86) and "Dream Evil" ('87). A bright spot was Dio's participation in Hear n' Aid - Metal's famine relief effort. Dio co-wrote and produced "Stars."

While "Lock Up The Wolves," released in '90, failed to muster much attention Dio's next move did. He rejoined Black Sabbath for "Dehumanizer." But the reunion was short-lived and soon Dio was on his own hook only now putting out an album every two years.

This downward spiral was interrupted in '06. But the seeds were sown nearly a decade earlier. The original Black Sabbath got together in '97 for a much-heralded reunion. High profile shows and tours followed. But once completed, Ozzy was off doing something else. Finally, Iommi, Butler and Ward hooked up with Dio.

Rather than operate under the Black Sabbath banner and risk getting embroiled in a massive legal battle, they (wisely) decided to name themselves after their first, best and most popular album together, Heaven And Hell.

Before things really got rolling, Ward stepped aside and was replaced by another Sabbath vet from the band's latter years, Appice (also an original Dio member).

Heaven And Hell embarked on a lengthy tour before issuing "Heaven And Hell: Live At Radio City Music Hall" in '07. Then came "The Rules Of Hell," a five CD box set chronicling the Dio-led incarnation of Sabbath. Remastered albums "Heaven And Hell," "Mob Rules" and "Dehumanizer" -- plus the concert set "Live Hell" were included.

Amid all sorts of rancor, Dio left Sabbath taking the band's current drummer Vinny Appice. The two launched Dio (Italian for "God"). The group started incredibly strong with the '83 effort "Holy Diver." But from there the quality dropped significantly as the group pushed out an album a year: "Last In Line" ('84), "Sacred Heart" ('85), the live "Intermission" ('86) and "Dream Evil" ('87). A bright spot was Dio's participation in Hear n' Aid - Metal's famine relief effort. Dio co-wrote and produced "Stars."



While "Lock Up The Wolves," released in '90, failed to muster much attention Dio's next move did. He rejoined Black Sabbath for "Dehumanizer." But the reunion was short-lived and soon Dio was on his own hook only now putting out an album every two years.

This downward spiral was interrupted in '06. But the seeds were sown nearly a decade earlier. The original Black Sabbath got together in '97 for a much-heralded reunion. High profile shows and tours followed. But once completed, Ozzy was off doing something else. Finally, Iommi, Butler and Ward hooked up with Dio.

Rather than operate under the Black Sabbath banner and risk getting embroiled in a massive legal battle, they (wisely) decided to name themselves after their first, best and most popular album together, Heaven & Hell.

Before things really got rolling, Ward stepped aside and was replaced by another Sabbath vet from the band's latter years, Appice (also an original Dio member).

Heaven & Hell embarked on a lengthy tour before issuing "Heaven & Hell: Live At Radio City Music Hall" in '07. Then came "The Rules Of Hell," a five CD box set chronicling the Dio-led incarnation of Sabbath. Remastered albums "Heaven And Hell," "Mob Rules" and "Dehumanizer" -- plus the concert set "Live Hell" were included.

After announcing the previous summer that he was battling stomach cancer, Dio, died in a Houston hospital where he was being treated on May 16th, 2010. "Please know he loved you all and his music will live on forever," his wife Wendy wrote to fans on the Dio website. He was 67.




Dio/Ronnie James Dio Discography

Albums:

1983 Holy Diver
1984 The Last In Line
1985 Sacred Heart
1987 Dream Evil
1990 Lock Up The Wolves
1993 Strange Highways
1996 Angry Machines
2000 Magica
2002 Killing The Dragon
2004 Master Of The Moon

Dio was one of Metal's most powerful vocalists. His forceful snarl, reminiscent of Judas Priest's Rob Halford, is augmented by near operatic turns.

For whatever reason, Dio's initial efforts with a band are the best. This is true with Rainbow (OK "Rising" is technically Dio's second album with Blackmore but first after Blackmore's Rainbow shortened its name) Sabbath and Dio

"Holy Diver" is the Dio album. It's hard to argue with "Stand Up And Shout," "Caught In The Middle" and "Gypsy." Why would you want to? Those tracks and others are awesome Metal powerhouses. Unfortunately, Dio pretty much plows the same ground throughout the remainder of the '80s only glancing "Holy Diver's" inspiration. After that, jump to Heaven And Hell.


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