Dio-A: On a very Black Sabbath, Ronnie James Dio is reported dead, then alive, then dead, as The Man on the Sivler Mountain is now at Last In Line to Rock Heaven with a little Hell (or vice versa)
“The ending is just a beginner…”
The End came too soon yesterday, for 67-year old Hard Rock legend Ronnie James Dio. Known as one of the greatest vocalists in the History of Metal, Dio crossed over into the Afterlife after a bout with stomach cancer. Reports of Dio’s untimely demise hit the Internet hard, but were quickly followed by a series of denials, and new reports that Dio was alive and kicking, just like Paul McCartney was, after the “I buried Paul/Cranberry Sauce” controversy 4 decades earlier.
But then the sad truth was revealed, when Dio’s widow Wendy verified the not-greatly-exaggerated initial reports on Dio’s official website, sending millions of hardcore fans around the globe into mourning. Of course, since those fans almost always wear black anyway, you won’t really be able to tell that they ARE mourning.
[NOTE: THERE IS A 21 CHEERLEADER-PHOTO SALUTE TO DIO AT THE END OF THIS TRIBUTE]
The only Metal name that probably WON’T be grieving is Ozzy Osbourne. For decades, Ozzy feuded with the man who replaced him as the Lead Singer for Black Sabbath. For one thing, Ozzy didn’t believe that Dio invented the famous Heavy Metal “Devil’s Horns” hand gesture that has now become synonymous with the genre itself. Dio says that he started it after his Grandmother used to do it to him when he was a child, calling it “The Evil Eye.”
Although the sign has been located in prior, more obscure places, I agree with Dio. At least, he was the driving force behind popularizing it, throughout the 80’s. At the same time, Ozzy was doing double peace signs, sort of like Nixon. But Dio took the feud further, claiming that Ozzy has NO musical ability whatsoever — That he didn’t sing in key, or understand harmony, or rhythm, or pitch, or anything else. I think that was a little bit of an exaggeration, but Ozzy’s voice WAS trashed (from self-abuse) during the 80’s, and LIVE, it cracked and was pretty sad. But Ozzy was a big part of some unforgettable and influential tunes and lyrics and attitude, with Black Sabbath in the 70’s, and in his solo career in the 80’s. Dio was the better pure SINGER, no doubt, but Ozzy’s contributions to Rock can not be ignored.
Ozzy’s Black Sabbath defined the genre, but when Dio took over and recorded “Heaven and Hell,” it was epic, very similar to Brian Johnson and AC/DC’s “Back in Black.” The songs “Heaven and Hell” and “Neon Knights” are undying classic Metal staples. Ironically, the most underrated and hardest-rocking song on the album is “Die Young.” The next Album’s Title Track, “Mob Rules,” is another song that, in the same vein as “Neon Knights,” everyone still cranks up as soon as it hits their speakers.
These Sabbath classics were not Dio’s first triumphs. Before Sabbath, Dio was the lead singer for Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow, and they put out a few masterpieces as well, none more intense than “Man on the Silver Mountain.” This song is the perfect example of why Dio is considered the quintessential Heavy Rock singer. I have to say “Heavy” instead of “Hard” in that sentence, or Robert Plant might have to enter the discussion. By keeping it more metallic (but not “Speed”), I have to elevate Dio above only Bruce, Klaus, and Axel (with Rob H. being disqualified for some “fabulous” reasons).
When video took over, I admit that Dio — like Halford — got a little cartoonish and a little too “dramatic” for adults (while Meine and Dickinson straddled the line sometimes, but usually were okay). And some of Dio’s solo “hits” I consider extremely commercial — Pop, almost. “Mystery,” “Hungry for Heaven,” and “Rock and Roll Children” were NOT the best examples of Ronnie’s metal soul. After those, I lost touch. But that doesn’t mean that my classic Dio Mix CD (which a friend made for me) isn’t in “heavy rotation” in my car.
I would like to end this part of the tribute with a Dio line from “Heaven and Hell,” that describes how I feel about getting to see and hear Dio in his prime, AND, how I feel about getting to take all the UCLA Cheerleader photos below:
“When you walk in golden halls, you get to keep the gold that falls. It’s Heaven and Hell.”
[As always, the photos enlarge (a lot) when you click them, and they have pop-up captions, if you rest your cursor on the pic for a second. Today’s captions are all Dio song lyrics. Only ONE WORD has been intentionally altered in all 21 quotations (If you find it, the shock might bring him back to life).
Ronnie James may be gone, but his stellar musical legacy will live on forever, and SATAN IS PROBABLY COLLECTING A SOUL ABOUT NOW, BECAUSE HOW ELSE COULD YOU GET A VOICE LIKE THAT, EXCEPT BY SELLING YOUR SOUL TO THE DEVIL? It would certainly explain a lot of the lyrics. And, if anyone has ever been prepared to meet Lucifer, it’s gotta be Dio.
By the way, I’m listening to the CD right now… and even “throwing the horns” every once in a while.
“The World is full of Kings and Queens, who blind your eyes and steal your dreams, it’s Heaven and Hell.” [aka UCLA and usc… just to give this whole article a shred of Blue and Gold, to go with the Black.]
Good Knight, Ronnie James Dio. Love Live Rock and Roll. Long Live Dio.