On Sunday, May 16, I read one of the saddest headlines in my life: LEGENDARY HEAVY METAL VOCALIST RONNIE JAMES DIO DIES. I was truly shocked. I knew that Ronnie had been in a difficult battle with Cancer and was still getting treatments. But in the last few weeks, we had been hearing how Heaven & Hell were planning on touring. Ronnie himself spoke of a follow-up to his concept album MAGIKA. It seemed that nothing could stop the mighty RJD from continuing his campaign for Heavy Metal. Then, a moment later… he is gone. It seems the family knew this was going to happen. They gathered that weekend to say their goodbye’s to their beloved family member. With him no longer amongst us, a light in the world is no more. An Icon, a True Icon, of Heavy Metal had been taken by forces beyond anyone’s control.
Ronnie’s popularity is bigger than the genre of music for which he was known. People outside the world of Heavy Metal know about the pint-sized wizard, with the voice of a god. You can’t help but be in awe of his beautiful, almost lament laden voice that, in an instant, can become as loud as wrathful thunder. His lyrics that champion open-mindedness, acceptance of all, spirituality, and especially the trials and tribulations of everyday life. His love for all things magic is known to any who have listened to even one of his songs. Not the parlor tricks that cheapen the experience of life, but True Magic. The Magic of living a life of purpose, the Magic that happens when souls connect and we embrace one another as family. The real Magic that resides in every one of us, if we just choose to do the difficult task and be True & Honorable in a world which makes it so easy to be Dishonest & Corrupt. I have always heard that Ronnie was a “Gentleman’s Gentleman”. A kind soul who appreciated his fans and never took them, or his talent, for granted. I heard him in an interview state that he never got nervous before a show. Why should he. He, along with his band, were going to do a great show, because that is what they do… so why be nervous. It is what his fans demand, and it is what he demands of himself and his crew. That is an artist who knows who he is, and knows what he wants. What about the man is there not to admire.
I discovered Ronnie, like most of us do. I got into Heavy Metal when I was about 12 years old (back in ’82). I discovered Judas Priest, KISS, then Black Sabbath, which lead to the Heaven & Hell album, which lead to Ronnie James Dio. Don’t get me wrong, I like Ozzy a lot… but I LOVE Ronnie Dio. From the first time I heard “Neon Knights” and the absolutely haunting “Sign of The Southern Cross”, I was hooked. I subsequently listened to every recording I could find that had his voice gracing a script of music. Rainbow’s “Stargazer” is an opus of pure genius. “Holy Diver” is a pure Heavy Metal anthem. I could go on and on, but I must point out one more thing that the mighty DIO gave us. We all know it. We all do it. Even those who should never entertain the idea, or know no better… do it. The salute that signals one Metal Warrior to another. Whether you are in Denim & Leather on a motorcycle, or Dockers and a collared shirt on the way to work. Metalheads, all are we, when we salute with that symbolic gesture known lovingly as “THE HORNS”! The horns that signal a positive when we hear something, read something, say something, or just think something… that is Pure Metal. We all can Thank Ronnie, and his Grandmother, for the horns. If you don’t know the story, it is available all over the internet, and expressed much better by Ronnie than me… so I won’t recount it here.
In closing… Ronnie, We Love You. You mean so much too so many. Our genre of music which sees its Death & Resurrection in every generation, owes a huge debt to you. You have never faltered in waving the flag of Heavy Metal, and you have never excused yourself from our music, like others in your line of work have done. You are the consummate Father of Heavy Metal. There will never be another like you. In your absence, the world is now a little less Heaven, and a little more Hell. Rest in Peace, you will be forever missed. LONG LIVE DIO! \m/