After quelling the rumors yesterday about the singer’s death, his wife updated Dio’s official site this morning with the news of his passing today.
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.
– Wendy Dio
Back in November, it was reported that Dio, who fronted rock greats like Black Sabbath and Rainbow, as well as his long-time solo act Dio, was diagnosed with stomach cancer and was undergoing treatment at the Mayo Clinic after canceling his European tour [read Rock Legend Ronnie James Dio Diagnosed With Stomach Cancer].
Dio’s cancer had been caught in its early stages, and in March, his wife posted online that after seven chemotherapy treatments and various tests, Dio’s tumor had shrunk down a lot and that his visits to a cancer clinic in Houston, TX has decreased from every two weeks to every three weeks. On May 4, Heaven & Hell (the renamed Dio-era Black Sabbath) announced that they were canceling their European summer because the singer was not well enough to tour.
Dio is survived by his wife, who was also his long-time manager, one son, and two grandchildren.
Born Ronald James Padavona in Portsmouth, NH, on July 10, 1942, he grew up in Cortland, NY. His first break was with the band Elf where he caught the attention of Deep Purple guitarist Ritchie Blackmore, who was forming Rainbow. Dio sang on the band’s most notable albums from 1975-1978, co-writing classics like “Man on the Silver Mountain,” “Stargazer,” and “Kill The King,” as well as rock anthem “Long Live Rock ‘n’ Roll.”
After creative differences with Blackmore, Dio left Rainbow in 1979 to replace singer Ozzy Osbourne in Black Sabbath. With Dio at the helm, the band moved way from their more doom and gloom sound, adopting Dio’s more upbeat tempos, incorporating more mystical lyrics into their songs. With Sabbath, Dio co-wrote some of band’s greatest songs — “Heaven and Hell,” “Children of the Sea,” “Mob Rules,” “Neon Knights,” I could go on a while with this. Basically, the first two studio albums with Dio — Heaven and Hell and Mob Rules — are near perfect.
In 1982, Dio left Black Sabbath to pursue a solo career, forming a band called Dio, in which he achieved even more successful with albums like Holy Diver and Last In Line and became best known for the tune “Rainbow in the Dark.” Dio’s solo career had continued going strong all these years; during that time, he also rejoined Black Sabbath/Heaven and Hell several times for new albums and tours.
During the 1980s, Dio solidified his status as a heavy metal icon with his Sabbath albums, as well as his solo records, not to mention his popularizing the “heavy metal horns” \m/\m/. He was undisputedly one of the greatest rock/heavy metal singers of all time, and an amazing songwriter.
Dio was an exemplary performer and frontman til the end. Well into this 60s, the singer was still a vibrant entertainer with a lot of stamina, and his voice was consistently solid. As a musician and performer, he was far from past his prime; he seemingly still had very many years left of making music and doing live shows ahead of him.
Tenacious D recorded the song “Dio” on their 2001 eponymous debut, paying homage to the singer by joking that “Dio has rocked for a long, long time, now it’s time for him to pass the torch” [to them]. Dio, who has indeed rocked for a long, long time and was rockin’ right up until the end, even appeared as himself in Tenacious D: The Pick of Destiny, even performing an original song in the film. Sadly, now the time truly has come for Dio to pass the torch.
Ronnie James Dio will be greatly missed. All of us headbangers here at Geeks of Doom are greatly sadden by his passing, as he was a major influence on our lives and continued to put on excellent shows for fans around the world. A bunch of us went to see Dio in Heaven and Hell a few years ago, and they were one of the first acts I took my nieces and nephews to see. I’ve probably seen him live at least 20 or so times since the late 1980s. He transcended generations of fans, and it’s tragic that he was taken before his time. Ronnie James Dio will never die in the hearts and minds of all of his fans; he will forever rock.