Home > Music > Issue #548.5 R.I.P. Ronnie James Dio

Issue #548.5 R.I.P. Ronnie James Dio

Detritus
Mini-Issue #548.5
May 21, 2010
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*** CAST OF CHARACTERS ***
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Patrick Brower, Stargazer
pwbrower@gmail.com

Sean P. Gahgan, Neon Knight
spgahgan@comcast.net
http://www.lakeoffire.net/
http://www.myspace.com/visionlakeoffire

Tim Wadzinski, Holy Diver
tsw512@yahoo.com

Steve Shumake, Sunset Superman
vongoober@neb.rr.com
http://www.myspace.com/kdsteve

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*** LET IT BE KNOWN ***
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-Here are some of our thoughts and memories of the late, great Ronnie James Dio.

And, thanks to Stuart Smith for passing this on — Wendy Dio has announced a public memorial will take place next weekend:

Ronnie James Dio Memorial
Sunday May 30th, 2010
2:00 p.m.
Hall of Liberty
Forest Lawn, Hollywood Hills

– Tim

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*** AT THE ALTAR ***
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by Patrick Brower (pwbrower@gmail.com)

-This will be brief because others in this very issue will say more and better, but I would be remiss in not acknowledging what we all have lost this week.

-Sometime in 2003 (I think), I started singing with a cover band called Fictitious. It didn’t work out, but if I recall correctly, there was a brief medley where Ozzy’s “Bark at the Moon” became Dio’s “Rainbow in the Dark” and then back. I never could do a fitting Dio. R.I.P., Ronnie James.

-In 2001 Tenacious D wrote a song about Dio, about how it was time for him to pass the torch of Rock to them. It was clever and a fitting tribute, without being mean. Here’s a live version of it:

-In 2002 a man named Dan DiDio became the Executive Editor of DC Comics, Inc. Comics are my industry and I have had much personal interaction with him. I decided he should be called “Danny James DiDio.” He didn’t get it, but I thought it was hilarious. I still think so.

-And lastly, here’s another Tenacious D video, this one featuring the man himself (at the 2:54 mark). However, it has a lot of profanity, so Not Safe For Work. It’s “Kickapoo” from THE PICK OF DESTINY.

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*** FROM THE MEGA-VAULT ***
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by Keith Abt (KeithAbt@yahoo.com)

THIS WEEK: REMEMBERING R.J.D.

By now, I’m sure you have all read dozens of articles, tributes, and comments about the passing of metal legend Ronnie James Dio, who sadly left us on May 16 after a brief but valiant battle with stomach cancer. I certainly hope you don’t mind reading one more, but the question is… where to begin??

Until you really dig into Ronnie’s list of accomplishments, it seems hard to believe that the eternally youthful Dio was actually 67 years old at the time of his death, and had been in the music business since before many of his fans (this writer included) were even born. The former Ronald Padavona began his musical journey in a number of Upstate New York area garage bands waaaaaayyy back in the earliest days of rock and roll (the first 45 RPM single to bear his name appeared either in 1958 or ’59, depending on which Web site you consult), and he soldiered on throughout the turbulent 1960s and ’70s until he finally found a “home” in the burgeoning hard rock/metal community, first with his own band Elf, and then upon joining Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow. From there of course he took Ozzy Osbourne’s place in Black Sabbath, which must’ve been a daunting task, but the little guy with the HUGE voice made sure that Sabbath remained a force to be reckoned with. Then he split Sabbath after only two (classic) studio albums to front his own eponymous combo and never looked back. Ronnie remained a fixture in the hard rock scene from then on, both with his own band and in periodic reunions with his Sabbath mates, up until his illness was diagnosed late last year. In total, the man produced five decades of music, give or take a year or two, and by all accounts he somehow managed to remain one of the humblest, nicest gentlemen in the business throughout it all. Anybody who knows how cut throat the music industry can be will tell you that is no mean feat. Horns and respect!!!

I first discovered Ronnie James Dio as a 12 year old when his “Rainbow In The Dark” video was getting pretty major MTV play. At the time I had no idea who he was (hell, I was twelve, I barely knew who Black Sabbath was!) but his regal stance and classy delivery set him apart from much of the L.A. radio-friendly “metal” that I was listening to at the time. His ’83 solo debut, HOLY DIVER was a monumental release, both heavy and heartfelt, and remains a stone cold classic to this very day. Dio’s hot streak continued with ’84’s equally stellar THE LAST IN LINE, the title track becoming one of not only Dio’s signature tunes, but a cornerstone of ’80s metal in general. If you do not own either of the two aforementioned albums, the metal content in your blood is about a quart low.

Oddly enough, though I was certainly a fan in the early ’80s, I didn’t truly “discover” Ronnie James Dio till most others had written him off. Of course I was way into HOLY DIVER and LAST IN LINE as a teen and I stuck with him through ’85’s SACRED HEART album and Hear ‘N Aid’s “Stars” charity single, but after that he and I parted ways for a good long while, though I assure you that it was through no fault of Ronnie’s. By the mid ’80s the metal scene was exploding from all sides and though RJD’s tales of dragons and rainbows had served as my gateway into the scene’s nether realms, I found myself entranced by other bands and other styles for quite a few years. Every so often I’d read an interview with the man or notice that he had a new record out, causing me to smile and be glad that he was still out there fighting the good fight, but it wasn’t till the late ’90s that his music began to invade my metal consciousness once again. (I can hear a bunch of you saying “Shame on you!” already, and honestly, I don’t blame you.) At the close of the 20th century the rising European power metal wave was making a big impression on me, and damn near every band I listened to at that time was either covering one of Dio’s songs or dropping props to him in interviews. I hadn’t bought a Dio album in over a decade by then and my old vinyl and cassette copies of his stuff were consigned to a dusty corner of my closet, but I started thinking to myself “Damn, I really gotta get me some Dio on CD.” As fate would have it, Rhino had just released the VERY BEAST OF DIO compilation of his work. One listen to that disc was all it took, I was a goner. “Where the HELL have I been?” I muttered as I slapped myself upside the head. I made up for lost time very quickly; within a year I had obsessively collected nearly all of the man’s past works, from Sabbath to Rainbow to the Dio discography, and he’s been a major part of the soundtrack to my life ever since. HOLY DIVER and THE LAST IN LINE sounded just as awesome as I’d remembered, DREAM EVIL knocked me for a loop, and then-recent releases like 2000’s MAGICA and 2002’s KILLING THE DRAGON (a personal late era fave) proved that Ronnie may have lost some hair over the years but musically, he hadn’t lost a step.

When the stars re-aligned in the mid-2000’s and Ronnie reunited with Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler, and Vinny Appice under the Heaven & Hell moniker, I was just as thrilled as any metal geek. The resulting album, THE DEVIL YOU KNOW, was a fantastic piece of work by the respected veterans, with Dio as the wizard leading the charge. The man may have hit a rough patch during the late ’90s (ANGRY MACHINES, anyone? Mmmm, nahh, I didn’t think so) but when metaldom at large welcomed THE DEVIL YOU KNOW with open arms, Ronnie James Dio had come back bigger than ever, and by all accounts it couldn’t have happened to a more deserving fella.

From then on, “getting to see Dio live” was on my “bucket list” of things to do before I died, but unfortunately I was never able to catch RJD live in any of his musical incarnations, and now obviously I never will. I suppose every music fan has one band or artist that is “the one that got away” and as of May 16th, Ronnie James Dio became mine. Yes, that’s gonna bother me for the rest of my days, but at least I have dozens of absolutely amazing songs to remember him by.

I really have nothing more to say except “Thanks for all the great music, Ronnie.” The metal community has lost one of its founding fathers, but rest assured that even after all the fools have sailed away, Ronnie James Dio will still be out there on the Silver Mountain, throwin’ horns with one hand and wielding a sword in the other, killing the dragons in the midnight sea. All we have to do is listen…

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*** REALM OF SHRED ***
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by Neal Woodall (MysticX9@gmail.com)

Well this is one hard column to write, let me tell you. For the past three days I’ve been wiping away tears while reading thoughts, condolences and tributes to Ronnie James Dio and I’m wondering if I can add anything of substance to what has already been said; I think it’s clear the historical information has been well chronicled by numerous sources so I’ll skip the biography, and I’m doubting anyone reading this needs reminding of what an incredible influence Ronnie was (and continues to be) in the lives of those he touched with his music, friendship and philanthropy. What I will say is that no musician’s death has affected me this way since Randy Rhoads suddenly left us in 1982. I’ve surely experienced the loss of many greats over the years, but none have quite had this sense of losing a family member or close friend. Right now I feel as if a large part of my youth has been abruptly taken from me. Stands to reason I guess, by my calculations I’ve been listening to Ronnie for thirty-one years, from Rainbow RISING to Heaven & Hell THE DEVIL YOU KNOW. Time has a way of evaporating as you get older and often you don’t notice it is passing, but it is.

Thinking back to what first endeared me to Ronnie James Dio I remember hearing songs such as “Stargazer” and “Children Of The Sea” and noticing the sheer power of that voice, Ronnie always so confident in his performance. Later when I was able to see him live it was his thorough command of the stage that left me awestruck. I think though, as much as I was impressed by the pure strength of his voice and his stage presence, the emotion he conveyed was what made him my favorite. It also didn’t hurt that Ronnie wrote some of the greatest, most enduring songs in heavy metal.

Ronnie has been such a big part of my life. My thoughts of him are mixed with memories of listening to HOLY DIVER with one of my best friends, who also sadly passed away from cancer, cranking up THE LAST IN LINE on my way home from my first summer job after a rough day in the Texas heat, staying up to tape a Dio concert on late night television, eagerly devouring every interview, having philosophical discussions with college friends about the meanings of Ronnie’s intriguing lyrics and partying with my cousins to Black Sabbath and Dio videos. I smile with each recollection.

I met Ronnie once in 1994 following a show in Houston and he was as friendly and engaging as any “star” I’ve ever encountered, before or since. Ronnie signed my Rainbow ON STAGE album “To Neil – Magic, Ronnie James Dio.” Awesome. I didn’t have the heart to tell him he spelled my name wrong, as far as I was concerned he was welcome to change it! I just remember him smiling, hanging out with the fans as if there was nothing he would rather be doing, so approachable and warm. Pure class.

I was fortunate to see Ronnie six times in concert, all during his solo era starting with the HOLY DIVER tour in 1983 and ending with the KILLING THE DRAGON shows in 2002, and each performance was exceptional. I wish I had seen him with Rainbow, Black Sabbath and Heaven & Hell. The last song I heard him sing live was “Long Live Rock ‘N’ Roll.” Indeed.

I’m devastated that I’ll never have a chance to see him live again, or hear an album of new material, but his legacy lives on in the music and memories he left us and the countless musicians he inspired. Condolences to his family, friends and fans, we’re all going to miss him very much.

I feel the tears coming on again so I’ll just end by saying there will never be another like you Ronnie, and thanks for the magic.

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*** ROCK HARD RIDE FREE ***
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by Tim Wadzinski (tsw512@yahoo.com)

-Earlier this week I tried keeping up with BraveWords.com’s excellent coverage of all the outpouring of sentiment from every corner of the metal universe, but I was quickly overwhelmed. I did manage to collect a few of my favorite testimonials, though, and I recommend you check ’em all out:

Lars Ulrich
http://www.bravewords.com/news/138981

Robb Flynn (Machine Head)
http://www.bravewords.com/news/138988

Martin Popoff (biographer/author)
http://www.bravewords.com/news/139008

Jason Meyers (Icarus Witch)
http://www.bravewords.com/news/139062

Be sure to check out the site’s “Dio remembered in photos” feature at http://www.bravewords.com/galleries/388 , and a link to the man’s last video interview (from August 29, 2009, in Atlantic City after a show) at http://www.bravewords.com/news/138995 .

And as I’m sure you all know by now, according to a post at RonnieJamesDio.com fans can leave their condolences on Facebook @ http://www.facebook.com/OfficialRonnieJamesDio .

-My history with Dio is a bit different from the typical headbanger’s, I suspect. Hard rock and metal first hooked me back around ’82-’83, but “seriously evil” bands like Black Sabbath and Dio kinda scared me. I was one of those doofs who spent a lot of time turning the Dio logo this way and that, looking for the way it spelled out “D-E-V-I-L,” and getting freaked out in the process. I saw all the old videos on MTV and was intrigued, but I stayed away for whatever reason. The mysterious vibe surrounding Dio was enhanced by the older headbangers at my high school talking about him in hushed, revered tones. The message I got was clear: only true metallers were allowed to like Dio.

LOCK UP THE WOLVES came out when I was in college, and I think it was the first Dio record I ever bought. This was right about the time some of my buddies were turning away, branding Dio as “kiddie metal for 13-year-olds.” I didn’t totally love the album, but I nonetheless started following his career in earnest. I began to seek out all his old stuff and committed to picking up each new release.

Live, I really came late to the party. I saw the Dio band a few times, from the ANGRY MACHNES tour through to the KILLING THE DRAGON tour, and I never saw him deliver a bad performance. I was stunned when he announced from the stage that the cramped club show on the ANGRY MACHINES tour was being recorded for a live album. So dig out 1998’s INFERNO: LAST IN LIVE, because somewhere in there you can hear my buddies and me screaming “Long live rock ‘n’ roll!” Awesome.

Unfortunately I was never able to meet or interview Ronnie, but based on all the coverage I’ve been reading this week, undoubtedly he would’ve been totally cool to this petty little online ‘zine guy. The man was nothing if not gracious; just count the number of times he says “Thank you” on that live album. (And I feel like a supreme tool for referring to him as “the evil dwarf” from time to time over the years… Blatant disrespect on my part. Ronnie, wherever you are, I am sorry.) He truly was a golden-throated rock god, and worthy of every ounce of respect and admiration being sent his way. R.I.P.

-In my current playlist: Dio – SACRED HEART (Warner Bros.), Black Sabbath – MOB RULES (Warner Bros.), Dio – KILLING THE DRAGON (Spitfire Records), Dio – DREAM EVIL (Warner Bros.).

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*** OUT ***
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