Ronnie James Dio
|Ronnie James Dio|
Dio June 11, 2009
|Birth name||Ronald James Padavona|
July 10, 1942|
Portsmouth, New Hampshire, United States
|Died||May 16, 2010
Los Angeles, California, United States
|Genres||Heavy metal, hard rock|
|Occupations||Musician, songwriter, producer|
|Instruments||Vocals, bass, guitar, keyboards, trumpet, french horn|
|Associated acts||Dio, Rainbow, Black Sabbath, Heaven & Hell, Elf, Hear 'n Aid, Tenacious D|
Ronald James Padavona (July 10, 1942 – May 16, 2010), better known as Ronnie James Dio, was an American rock and heavy metal vocalist and songwriter. He performed with, among others, Elf, Rainbow, Black Sabbath, Heaven & Hell, and his own band Dio. Other musical projects include the collective fundraiser Hear 'n Aid. He was widely hailed as one of the most powerful singers in heavy metal, renowned for his consistently powerful voice. His idol was Mario Lanza. He is credited with popularizing the "metal horns" hand gesture in metal culture. Before his death, he was collaborating on a project with former Black Sabbath bandmates Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler, and Vinny Appice, under the moniker Heaven & Hell, whose only studio album, The Devil You Know, was released on April 28, 2009. Dio died of stomach cancer on May 16, 2010. One of the last songs he recorded was titled "Metal Will Never Die". Ronnie James Dio has sold over 47 million copies of albums with all of the bands he has worked in.
Early years, education and musical training 
Dio graduated from the Cortland City School in 1960, and was inducted to the Cortland City School Hall of Fame in 2004. He was also honored on November 15, 1988 by his hometown naming a street after him, Dio Way.
During a performance at the Darien Lake Performing Arts Center in Darien, NY (near Buffalo, NY) on September 19, 2007, Dio revealed that he had attended the University at Buffalo, majoring in pharmacy. He attended from 1960 to 1961 but did not graduate. He formed one of his early bands during his freshman year.
He was offered a scholarship to the Juilliard School of Music but did not pursue it due to his interest in rock music. Despite being known for his powerful singing voice, Dio claimed never to have taken any vocal training. He attributed his singing ability to the correct breathing techniques he learned when playing the French horn as a child. He initially played the trumpet and French horn and even recorded several singles with various rockabilly bands when he was a boy.
Early career 
Dio's musical career began in 1957 when several Cortland, New York musicians formed the band The Vegas Kings. This band's lineup had Padavona on the bass guitar, along with singer Billy DeWolfe, guitarist Nick Pantas, drummer Tom Rogers, and saxophone player Jack Musci.
In 1958, the band again changed their name, along with a few changes of personnel. After a period when the band was called Ronnie & The Rumblers, it was now known as Ronnie and the Redcaps. At this point, Padavona began singing, replacing DeWolfe. Musci also left the band, and a new guitarist, Dick Botoff, joined. The Redcaps lineup released two singles: "Conquest" b/w "Lover" (with DeWolfe on vocals on the B-side, and an instrumental reminiscent of The Ventures, featuring Dio on trumpet, on the A-side) on the Reb label, and on Seneca (S 178-102, USA), "An Angel Is Missing" with "What'd I Say" on the B-side (both songs featuring Padavona on vocals).
Explanations vary for how Padavona came to call himself "Dio". One story is that Dio was a reference to mafia member Johnny Dio. Another has it that Padavona's grandmother said he had a gift from God and should be called "Dio". Whatever the source, Padavona first used it on a recording in 1960, when he added it to the band's second release on Seneca. Soon after that the band changed their name to Ronnie Dio and the Prophets. The Prophets lineup lasted for several years, touring throughout the New York region and playing college fraternity parties. They produced one single for Atlantic and one album. Some of the singles (such as "Mr. Misery", released on Swan) were labeled as being by Ronnie Dio as a solo artist even if the rest of the Prophets may have contributed to the recording. The group released several singles during the following years, until early 1967. Dio continued to use his original last name on any songwriting credits on those releases.
In late 1967 Ronnie Dio and the Prophets transformed into a new band called The Electric Elves and added a keyboard player. Following recovery from a deadly car accident in February 1968 (which killed guitarist Nick Pantas and put Dio and other band members in the hospital briefly), the group shortened its name to The Elves and used that name until mid 1972 when it released its first proper album under the name Elf. Over the next few years, the group went on to become a regular opening act for Deep Purple. Elf recorded three albums until the members' involvement recording the first Rainbow album in early 1975 resulted in Elf disbanding.
Dio's vocals caught the ear of Deep Purple guitarist Ritchie Blackmore, who was planning on leaving the band then, since he didn't approve of his bandmates' new direction. Blackmore invited Ronnie along with Gary Driscoll to record two songs in Tampa, Florida on December 12, 1974. Being satisfied with the results, Blackmore decided to recruit more of Elf's musicians and form his own band, primarily known as Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow. They released the self-entitled debut album Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow in early 1975. After that, Dio recorded two studio albums (Rising and Long Live Rock 'n' Roll) and one live album (On Stage) with Blackmore. During his tenure with Rainbow, Dio and Blackmore were the only constant members. Dio is credited on those albums for all lyrical authorship as well as collaboration with Blackmore on musical arrangement. Ronnie James Dio decided to leave Rainbow after Ritchie Blackmore tried to take the band into a more commercial/radio friendly direction, thus leaving the "sword and sorcery" theme.
As he would state in a 2005 interview, Dio was already considering forming a band under his own name, after differences with Ritchie Blackmore ensued.
Black Sabbath 
Dio left Rainbow in 1979 and joined Black Sabbath, replacing Ozzy Osbourne. That line-up released the highly successful and classic Heaven and Hell album in 1980, which revitalized the band's career. They then went on to record Mob Rules with Vinny Appice on drums. Vinny replaced original Black Sabbath drummer Bill Ward during the tour for Heaven and Hell due to familial problems at the time. It may also be noted that Bill was not very happy with Ronnie's singing style and temperament (evidence of this divisiveness can be found in the Tony Iommi autobiography Iron Man). The album proved less successful than its predecessor, but still a hit. In 1982, disagreements over the mixing of Live Evil led to Dio and Appice quitting the band to form the band Dio. In 1992, Dio briefly returned to Black Sabbath to record Dehumanizer. The album was a minor hit, reaching the Top 40 in the United Kingdom and #44 on the Billboard 200.
Wanting to continue together as a band, Ronnie James Dio and Vinnie Appice formed Dio, the band, in 1982. On guitar played Vivian Campbell and on bass Jimmy Bain, the latter whom he had known since the old Rainbow days. Their debut album, Holy Diver, included the hit singles "Rainbow in the Dark" and the title track, "Holy Diver". That lineup recorded three albums, before the band changed members over the years and leaving Dio as the only original member. Except a few breaks, Dio, the band, was always touring or recording. They released ten albums, with Master of the Moon being the last one, recorded in 2004.
Heaven & Hell 
In October 2006, it was confirmed that Dio would be joining Black Sabbath members Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler, and former Black Sabbath drummer Vinny Appice to tour under the moniker Heaven & Hell, the title of the first Dio era Black Sabbath album. They chose the name Heaven & Hell as Tony Iommi and Geezer Butler were still in Black Sabbath with Ozzy Osbourne and felt it was best to use a different moniker for the Dio version of the band. Original Black Sabbath drummer Bill Ward was to be involved in this project, but he later withdrew. In 2008 the band completed a 98-date world tour. The band released one album under the Heaven & Hell name, The Devil You Know, to critical and commercial acclaim. They also had planned to release a follow-up in 2010.
Other projects involved 
In 1974, Dio sang on the Roger Glover conducted and produced concept album The Butterfly Ball and the Grasshopper's Feast. Along other guest-singers, the album featured Deep Purple alumni Glenn Hughes and David Coverdale. Dio provided vocals for the songs "Homeward", "Sitting in a Dream" and the UK single "Love is All".
In 1980, Dio sang the tracks "To Live for the King" and "Mask of the Great Deceiver" on Kerry Livgren's solo album Seeds of Change. Dio, who was between stints as singer for Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow and Black Sabbath, later proved somewhat controversial among Livgren's Christian fans, as Black Sabbath and Dio were then perceived as "satanic" by many Christians. Dio said in an interview that he did not consider the album to be a "Christian" album and had performed on it as a favor to Livgren.
In 1985, Dio contributed to the metal world's answer to Band Aid and USA for Africa with the Hear 'n Aid project. With a heavy metal all-star ensemble which was the brainchild of his fellow Dio band mates Vivian Campbell and Jimmy Bain, he sang some of the vocals on the single "Stars" and an album full of songs from other artists given to charity.
The project raised $1 million within a year.
In 1997, Dio made a cameo on Pat Boone's In a Metal Mood: No More Mr. Nice Guy, an album of famous heavy metal songs played in big band style. Dio can be heard singing backup on Boone's take of "Holy Diver". In 1999, he was parodied in the TV show South Park, in the episode Hooked on Monkey Fonics, which he later went on to describe as "wonderful". 
Tenacious D included a tribute song entitled "Dio" that appeared on their self-titled album. The song explains how he has to "pass the torch" for a new generation. Reportedly, Dio approved of it, and had Tenacious D appear in his video "Push" from Killing the Dragon in 2002. He also appeared in the film Tenacious D in The Pick of Destiny, playing himself.
In 2005, Dio was revealed to be the voice behind Dr. X in Operation: Mindcrime II, the sequel to Queensrÿche's seminal concept album Operation: Mindcrime. His part was shown in a prerecorded video on the subsequent tour, and Ronnie appeared onstage to sing the part live on at least one occasion (both shown on the Mindcrime at the Moore DVD).
Personal life 
Dio and his first wife, Loretta Berardi (born 1941), adopted a son, Dan Padavona.
After divorcing Berardi, he married Wendy Gaxiola (born 1945) who also served as his manager. In the 1980s, she managed the Los Angeles rock bands Rough Cutt, Nuhaven (with drummer Doug Simpson), and Hellion. Dio remained married to Gaxiola until his death.
Illness and death 
"Ronnie has been diagnosed with the early stages of stomach cancer. We are starting treatment immediately at the Mayo Clinic. After he kills this dragon, Ronnie will be back on stage, where he belongs, doing what he loves best, performing for his fans. Long live rock and roll, long live Ronnie James Dio. Thanks to all the friends and fans from all over the world that have sent well wishes. This has really helped to keep his spirit up."
On March 14, 2010, Wendy posted an online update on his condition:
"It has been Ronnie's 7th chemo, another cat scan and another endoscopy, and the results are good – the main tumor has shrunk considerably, and our visits to Houston (cancer clinic in Texas) are now every three weeks instead of every two weeks."
On May 4, 2010, Heaven & Hell announced they were canceling all summer dates as a result of Dio's ill health.
"Today my heart is broken, Ronnie passed away at 7:45am 16th May. Many, many friends and family were able to say their private good-byes 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."
A public memorial service was held on May 30, 2010 at 2 p.m. at The Hall Of Liberty, Forest Lawn Hollywood Hills, 6300 Forest Lawn Drive in Los Angeles. The hall was filled to capacity with over 1,500 people so the remainder of the fans had to sit outside of the hall and watch from a live screen. Friends, family, and former and current band mates of Dio gave speeches and performed including Rudy Sarzo, John Payne, Glenn Hughes, Joey Belladonna, and Heaven & Hell keyboard player, Scott Warren. On the screen was an accompanying documentary covering Dio's career from his early days with Elf to his final project with Heaven & Hell. Everybody who attended had the opportunity to view Dio's coffin. The Westboro Baptist Church held a small rally denouncing Dio as a Satan worshiper. Wendy Dio urged those attending the funeral to ignore the protest, saying:
"Ronnie hates prejudice and violence. We need to turn the other cheek on these people that only know how to hate someone they didn't know. We only know how to love someone we know!"
Dio's career spanned over fifty years. During this period, and particularly in the 21st century, he received a number of distinctions and awards. He was inducted into the Cortland City Hall of Fame in 2004, and has a street named after him there called Dio Way. In his post-Elf band Rainbow, Ronnie wrote some of the first Power Metal lyrics. Classic Rock Magazine awarded Dio with the "Metal Guru Award" at their yearly "Roll Of Honour" awards ceremony in 2006. On January 17, 2007, Dio was inducted into Guitar Center's Rock Walk of Fame in Hollywood, CA. Dio was named "Best Metal Singer" at the Revolver Golden Gods Awards in April 2010 for his work on The Devil You Know, making him the oldest recipient of this award at age 67. He accepted the award in person at what was to be his final public appearance, less than one month before his death. The main stage of Bloodstock Open Air is also named after him in tribute after Heaven & Hell pulled out upon his death. Also the main stage on Masters of Rock festival carries his name since summer 2010. A Dio monument has been unveiled in Kavarna, Bulgaria.
Rolling Stone magazine eulogized Dio with these words: "It wasn't just his mighty pipes that made him Ronnie James Dio — it was his moral fervor...what always stood out was Dio's raging compassion for the lost rock & roll children in his audience. Dio never pretended to be one of the kids — he sang as an adult assuring us that we weren't alone in our suffering, and some day we might even be proud of conquering it".
On July 10, 2011 in parallel to Ronnie Dio's birthday in Cortland, NY was held a day-long event featuring many central New York local bands and talent for a benefit to the Stand Up and Shout Cancer foundation for cancer research and Dio Memorial concert. Part of the proceeds from the event went to fund a memorial music scholarship for the local city high-school in his name.
Band timeline 
|The Vegas Kings
Ronnie & The Rumblers
|Ronnie (Dio) & The Red Caps
(The name 'Dio' was added on their second single release)
|Ronnie Dio & The Prophets
- The Vegas Kings (1957–1958)
- Ronnie & The Rumblers (1958)
- Ronnie & The Red Caps (1958–1961)
- Ronnie Dio & The Prophets (1961–1967)
- The Electric Elves (1967–1969)
- The Elves (1969–1970)
- Elf (1970–1975)
- Rainbow (1975–1979)
- Black Sabbath (1979–1982, 1991–1992, 2006 [Recording of three new songs for Black Sabbath: The Dio Years)
- Dio (1982–1991, 1993–2010)
- Hear 'n Aid (1985)
- Heaven & Hell (2006–2010)
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- "BLABBERMOUTH.NET - RONNIE JAMES DIO's Public Memorial Service: First Photos, Video Footage". Roadrunnerrecords.com. Retrieved 2010-11-13.
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- Dick Bottoff (2011-07-10). "DIO Tribute Web Site". Standupandshoutcortland.org. Retrieved 2011-08-21.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Ronnie Dio|
- Official website
- Ronnie James Dio on Twitter
- Ronnie James Dio at the Internet Movie Database
- Ronnie James Dio at Billboard.com
- Memorial benefit event