Thanks Señor Dio.
Dio died yesterday.
Ronnie James Dio.
Dead. It still pains me to even think about.
Sure it sounds cheesy that the death of someone I had never met has saddened me so much, but it is what it is. Ronnie was legendary not only for his longevity in the business, the “devil horns salute,
an incredibly strong voice (even into his 60s) but also for being one of the nicest and classiest guys in the music business. He’s one of the few big stars that I always wanted to meet and never got the chance to. I’ve known several people through the years who did meet him and some who spent ample time with him on tour and they all said the exact same thing…’class act.’
Thanks to one of my older brothers, I got introduced to this voice in the late 1970s, probably ‘78 or ‘79 if I had to wager on it. I’m pretty sure it was Rainbow Rising. I just remember that I liked it a lot. Subsequently I remember him bringing home Long Live Rock and Roll and the first Rainbow (my guess is that he stole them – funny but true). I really liked that stuff but it was right around that time that Heaven and Hell came out and I was already a Black Sabbath fan thanks to my brother. But this Sabbath was different. A lot different. Pleasingly so. How could one not love this stuff? And Mob Rules? C’mon! Dio was really making his mark in the music world and I fucking loved it. I’m not never shy to say that I prefer the Dio era of Sabbath over Ozzy’s. Don’t get me wrong, that Ozzy stuff, most of it, was great, but there is something about Dio’s voice that suits me better. Even 15 years after Dehumanizer came out, I finally liked it. Quality record for sure.
But this blog isn’t about the Dio discography. After coming home from seeing some bands in the wee morning hours yesterday, I started seeing rumblings of “RIP RJD” posted on various social networking sites. Then I saw that rumor get squelched. Then yesterday afternoon around 2PM CST, I saw the official word from Dio’s page and the note from Wendy. Crushed. That’s how I felt yesterday; it’s how I still feel today. I honestly feel like a friend of mine just died…in some ways a friend did. Ronnie’s music, especially with Sabbath and the DIO (band) stuff was really important to me throughout my adolescent years. I spent hours upon hours playing drums to these records in the 80s, especially Last In Line. That is my favorite record of his over anything else he has ever done.
When I first saw the news about his death I just sat there for a few moments dumfounded. Really? He’s dead? Dio? Dio can’t die. He’s Dio! He’s going to live forever! Then the pit in my stomach came. I am not afraid to admit that I cried a little yesterday and am actually a little choked up writing this today. Music can be a very emotional thing for me and Dio’s music certainly moved me for most of my life.
I’m glad I did get to see him live a few times, even if the first time was c. 1998. In 2007 I went to Radio City Music Hall in NYC to attend the Heaven and Hell show, the same show that’s on the DVD. That was quite a special experience because I also got to see Iommi and Butler on stage together with Ronnie. I got a little verklempt when they hit the stage that night as well.
I remember my Dad saying to me years ago before he died (1997) that the older we get, those that we know and love in our lifetimes are going to die off. So true. Everyone dies sometime, eh? Coincidentally, my Dad and Dio were only 2 weeks difference in age, Dio just lasted longer.
Not to drag this on any further, but thank you Mr. Dio for making my world a little bit of a better place because of the quality music you have been creating for as long as I can remember. Much of the Dio catalog stays in steady rotation in my playlists, but I’ll surely be spinning a little more of it this week. There’s no such thing as too much, Dio, right? Whether you ended up in Heaven, Hell, Purgatory, a crematory or just a box in the ground, you touched the lives of many. Thanks again.
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