Thursday, May 20, 2010

Remembering Ronnie James Dio, grandfather of heavy metal

This is your life
This is your time
What if the flame won’t last forever
This is your here
This is your now
Let it be magical

Who cares what came before
We’re only starlight

Once upon the time
All the world was blind
Like we are

This is your life
This is your time
Look at your world
This is your life

–"This is Your Life,” Ronnie James Dio

In my opinion the late Ronnie James Dio was none other than the grandfather of heavy metal. Many if not most metal fans would probably cry blasphemy and choose to bestow that honor upon Ozzy Osbourne; not me. I like Ozzy, but Tony Iommi and Geezer Butler were the true creative forces behind the classic Black Sabbath albums (In fact, I’d be more willing to listen to a case for Iommi, whom Judas Priest frontman/Metal God Rob Halford credits as having invented the heavy metal riff).

Metal’s grandfather? It could be Ozzy. It could be Iommi. It may even be Halford. Judas Priest has been around nearly as long as Black Sabbath and arguably have enjoyed a more successful and consistent career. But I will make the case for Dio.

Dio’s death this past Sunday from stomach cancer was a huge loss for metal. It might be the genre’s biggest loss ever. The death of Randy Rhoads and AC/DC’s Bon Scott were tragic, but at 25 the former’s career was only beginning, and the latter was a singer in a band I consider rock, not metal. Your mileage may vary, of course, but off-hand, I can’t think of anything even close to the loss of Dio.

To read the rest of this post, visit The Cimmerian Web site.


Stephen Simpson, CFA said...

Dio was an incredible singer and by all accounts an even better person. I know I will miss him, even though the music and influences will live on.

Brian Murphy said...

Hi Stephen, agreed. I've seen a few interviews with Dio, including a nice segment on Sam Dunn's documentary "Metal: A Headbanger's Journey" (highly recommended, by the way), and he always comes across as a thoughtful, nice guy. In addition to being a great singer and creative artist.

Scott said...


Great post. I also passed on the Heaven and Hell tour last time they came around...kicking myself now. I've seen Dio twice; once on the Sacred Heart tour in '85 or '86, when he ahd a full-sized dragon and castle on stage, and again in a small club for the 'Strange Highways' tour. Both shows were fantastic. Hail Dio!

Anonymous said...

a great singer with a great voice for heavy metal... but althought I like bands like Judas Priest or Helloween and more classic ones like Uriah Heep, Led Zeppelin, Whitesnake or Rainbow I'm not very keen on Dio because of his antichristian imaginery. I'm not a very religious person but I don't like issues related to the demon and the cover of Holy diver for me is horrible and awful.
But Rainbow rising and Long live rock and roll are great albums... themes like Stargazer, Lady of the lake or The gates of Babylon are anthems of the best of hard rock...

Chris T. said...

Dio shall be missed, and HOLY DIVER shall remain my ringtone for the near future in his memory.

janet from NH said...

Great write-up Brian. I had to search for your blogs by going through some very old e-mails. I knew you would post something! I am so going to miss Dio. I am still in shock. It has been a rough week for me. I was so hopeful he would get better so we can continue to see him and the rest of the guys from Heaven and Hell on tour. Dee and I got our airline tickets, hotel and a car rental. We are heading to LA for his memorial. We leave Saturday. We know if we don't go we would regret it! See you soon Brian. Janet

Brian Murphy said...

Scott: Wow, you saw him in '85 on the Sacred Heart tour? That must have been a great show. I'm officially jealous.

Francisco: Although Dio used demonic imagery he was not a satanist. His lyrics are about the struggle of good and evil. Christians have their share of hypocrites and bigots who deserve a good dunking in the ocean a-la Holy Diver.

Chris T: That is a great ringtone.

Janet: I'm glad you find my little plot of cyberspace, and I'm glad you liked the post. I'd love a report on the memorial--feel free to post it here, otherwise I'm sure I'll get it from you this summer!

David J. West said...

I just keep picturing him on his throne from the last thing I saw him in-the unfortunate Tenacious D movie-but still they gave him a throne so thats cool.

Charles Gramlich said...

I was definitely sorry to see him gone. I've got about half of the band Dio's albums and they have some great great stuff on them.