When I woke up this morning and got online, I logged into my Google account and scrolled through the news that had piled up since last night in my Google Reader’s “Music” folder. Late last night news “broke” that Ronnie had passed away. Ronnie’s wife Wendy quickly laid those rumors to rest but added they were at a hospital and that Ronnie was not doing well at the moment. Fast forward to this afternoon and I am saddened and heartbroken to say that this early morning Ronnie passed away and unfortunately that is the truth.
The statement Wendy Dio issued to Blabbermouth.net:
Today my heart is broken, Ronnie passed away at 7:45 a.m. [on Sunday] 16th May. 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.
I know in the coming days and weeks there will be many touching tributes and words directed towards Ronnie James from family, friends and fans alike. In fact, many are already be posted online.
For myself, I must admit that up until just a few years ago, I wasn’t a huge fan of Dio’s music. I had no ill feelings towards his work but it never clicked with me despite owning a few Black Sabbath and solo albums: Heaven and Hell, Mob Rules, The Last In Line, Stand Up and Shout: The Dio Anthology. It wasn’t really until he reunited with Black Sabbath under the name of Heaven and Hell that I gave him (and Sabbath) a second chance. I started to immerse myself in the works of Sabbath, revisited those first two albums with Dio and fell in love with them. Then I began to pick up the rest of Dio’s solo work (only Intermission and Strange Highways elude me now) and just recently I picked up Rainbow’s Rising and Long Live Rock ‘N’ Roll.
I won’t turn this into some retrospective, as I’m sure many of those are to come, but the guy had an amazing career dating as far back as 1958. It wasn’t until the early ’70s and the band Elf that the Ronnie James Dio the world knows and loves began to take shape. From there, he went on to front Rainbow, Black Sabbath, Dio and Heaven and Hell. In short, if you’re not familiar with Ronnie’s discography then you’re missing out on some of the most essential and landmark rock and metal albums of all time.
I never got the chance to see Ronnie perform in person. Heaven and Hell came to nearby Detroit last summer but I didn’t go see them. It’s been a regret of mine ever since and obviously an even bigger regret now.
Dio has played a large part in my music obsession these last few years. His songs have dominated my playlist in the last year and because of this I’ve grown to feel a great connection and fondness for this man, who by all accounts, legitimately comes across as one of the nicest and most intelligent and articulated men in rock. No matter what band he was in at the very least you knew the album would be solid and it’s not hyperbole to say he’s one of the greatest rock vocalists of all time. No longer do I have a merely passing interest in all things Dio. He is one of my favorite singers and personalities in rock ‘n’ roll and Black Sabbath and Dio are two of my favorite bands of all time.
Literally just yesterday I was watching Dio’s Evil or Devine concert DVD courtesy of Netflix and now here I am writing about his passing. It’s all a bit hard to take. Ronnie had been battling stomach cancer since last year so I think everyone knew this outcome was a real possibility but it doesn’t lessen the impact or shock.
I don’t really know what else to say other than rest in peace, Ronnie James Dio. You will be missed greatly.
A number of my metal blog brothers have posted their own thoughts & feelings on this tragic situation. Here are the links. I will post more as they come to my attention:
Here is one of my most favorite songs that Dio ever sang on– Black Sabbath’s “I”. Amazing vocal performance.