Yesterday, Wendy Dio, wife and manager of former Elf, Rainbow, Black Sabbath, Dio, and Heaven and Hell frontman Ronnie James Dio, wrote a brief post saying that her husband had passed away, presumably from his battle with stomach cancer. While Dio lived to be 67, which is a good run, I still mourn his passing all the same.
I'm not much of a metalhead, but I have to admit: Dio made the genre more accessible, more energetic, and above all else, more fun. He brought the devil horns gesture to metal. He practically invented the operatic style of metal singing (besides, ya know... opera singers). Metal dudes can come off awfully pretentious in interviews - Marilyn Manson, anyone? - but Dio always seemed like a down to earth guy. Always willing to give other people their due, but always unafraid to defend his own artistic endeavors. He briefly gave Black Sabbath a second life after the departure of lead singer Ozzy Osbourne, and his original run of albums with the group, Heaven and Hell and Mob Rules, hold up. He also had a sense of humor about how ridiculous metal could be, which in a way helped him make his songs that much more larger than life. Dude knew how to spin a fantasy.
I've been blasting Dio's Black Sabbath discography today. Right now I'm rocking his solo disc Holy Diver, an album that manages to make a song like "Rainbow in the Dark" seem rockin'. Up next are tribute songs from Goldfinger and Tenacious D.
I couldn't believe it yesterday when I heard the news - in the Internet age, any celebrity death needs to be treated with skepticism - but also because Dio was, well, such a nice guy. Still, he seems to have had a good life, doing exactly what he wanted.
"Turn up the night!"