Ronald James Padavola known professionally as Ronnie James Dio. He is a huge part of my musical’s taste.
Hearing Heaven and Hell for the first time in 1980 made me a follower of all he did in the past.
Ronnie James Dio is without a doubt one of the most influential figures of the Heavy Metal Music.
How did Dio was introduced to Metal ? How did he become this beloved and admired heavy metal icon ? Who was the man behind this sucess and this journey ?
We are all huge fans of Dio in the Heavy Metal Addict team ! We spent a lot of time working on this article. After reading this blog post, you will know everything you need to know about Ronnie James Dio !
Are you ready ? Here we go 🤘
The early of the musical career of Ronnie James Dio
Ronnie was borned in New Hampshire of Italian American family from Cortland New York. At a young age Ronnie began his Rock N’Roll career on trumpet. He also has acquired bass guitar skills.
Dio began his musical career by joining the band « Vegas Kings » with other musicians from New York. Afterward the band changed its name two times : one time for « Ronnie and the Rumblers » and the other time for « Ronnie and the Redcaps ».
Having released two singles they became « Ronnie Dio and the prophet ». Pretty interesting to know that Ronnie started his musical career in the 1950s.
The band had changed it’s name for the last time as « Ronnie Dio and the Prophets ». The « Prophets » line up lasted for several years.
Dio saw Elvis Presley as a huge influence in his early years. One of the other influence of Ronnie James Dio was « the Beatles » and when the Beatles released « Helena Rigby » he knew where he wanted to go musicaly.
In late 1967 « Ronnie DIO and the Prophets » transformed to a new band called « Electric Elves » and added a keyboard player.
After recovering from a deadly car accident in february 1968 which killed the guitarist Nick Pantas.
This accident also required the band a long lasting hospitalization.
After that event the band’s name shortened to the Elves and used it until 1972.
Within this year they released their first proper album under the name « Elf» produced by Roger Glover of Deep Purple.
The group began to become a regular opening for Deep Purple’s performances.
Richie Blackmore did not endorse the pathway that the band was going in.
He wanted to leave the band and form a new one. Ronnie James Dio was in his mind to form that band and the members of Deep Purple knew this.
Ritchie Blackmore came to DIO, told him about his project and invited to join him.
Dio accepted at one condition : he has to take the other band members of the « Elf ».
The beginning of the band Rainbow
That is how « Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow » was born.
The first line-up never performed on live. The live pictures used on the album were Blackmore Deep Purple photos and Elf playing live.
Shortly after their first album release, all Elf members except but Dio was sacked and Blackmore recruted new musicians for the next Rainbow album.
A masterpiece named : Rainbow Rising with new members Cosy Pal, Jimie Page and keyboard player Tommy Kerrick.
The following year the band released « Alive » album on July 1977.
« Long live Rock n’ Roll » released April 9th 1978. The keyboard session was originally played by former Rainbow player Tony Karey while the bass part was started by Mark Clark.
Soon, Clark was dismissed. However as the bass part were recorded by Blackmore himself by July 1977, seven track that ended up in the album were in demo form.
The recording was suspended while the band recruted Bob Daisley and David Stone. Then started intensive touring in Europe in the summer and fall of 1977.
On the next album Blackmore wanted to take the band on a more commercial direction. Dio didn’t having none of that.
Ronnie James Dio « I didn’t want to make the kind of music he wanted to make. He wanted to be a popstar and I don’t like that way »
The encounter between Ronnie James Dio and Tony Iommi happened naturally.
Heaven and Hell
They saw each other at a party. Tonny invited Ronnie at the studio. Few days after their session , Dio received a call from Tony Iommi asking him if he wanted to join Black Sabbath after the firing of Ozzy Osbourne.
Black Sabbath « Heaven and Hell » released April 25th 1980. We can considered this album as the rebirth of Black Sabbath and Ronnie James Dio. 1980 was the year Ronnie made the Horn signs popular worldwide.
The album is a masterpiece, even if it is very different from what Black Sabbath could have done before.
By the time of « Heaven and Hell » tour, Billward left the band and only did the European tour. He was replaced by Vinnie Apiece who has been a mainstay of Black Sabbath with Dio till the end.
His first album with the band is memorable « MOB RULES »
1980's: the era of the DIO band
After the « Mob rules » album, they were some complications within the band. Tony and Geezer Butler decided to stop working with the current line-up and Dio. We still don’t have the reason about this decision.
Ronnie James Dio « I believe that after that album Tony and Geezer probably had some others agendas »
The official dissolution’s cause of the band is due to a disagreement about the mix of the live album.
Ronnie was without a group. He’s forced to make a decision in order to continue is musical career.
Dio : « So he came time now to make a decision. What we’re going to do ?
Well that was easy for me. I’ll put a band together myself. I have Vinnie, the two of us went to England. I wanted to play with anoterh british guitar player. I have found my old band mate Jimmy Bain there at the time.
Jimmy knew guitar players he said : Got two greats ones. He brouht a tape to Vinnie and I at the hotel we were staying at London. One of them was John Syckes and one was Vivian Campbell. »
« Holy Diver » released march 25th 1983. This album took us by surprise. The song that really took off on this album was « Rainbow in the dark »
It was such a hit that it caught Budweiser attention. They asked Ronnie James Dio if he would re-record « Rainbow in the dark » for a Budweiser commercial.
Last in Line
Then came the « Last in Line » album which was also a phenomenal album. The « Last in Line » tour offered us some of the best tour performance that we have ever experienced.
Everything from the muscial performance to the visual effect and decor at stage was amazing.
Now before they recorded « Sacred Heart » in May of 1985, Jimmy and Vivian came up with an idea to make an project to raise money for famine relief in Africa. They recruted a lot of Heavy Metal and Hard Rock stars at the time for the project called « Hear 'n Aid ».
Then came out « Dream Evil » in July 1987.
« This album was a return to form because we wanted to be that way.
Holy Diver was an album that has nothing to prove. We didn’t have anyone to please, only music to make for our hearts and for our minds. This one I wanted to be the same way »
The line-up of the DIO band has changed since the last album. Vivian Campbell was out of the band now. They brought in a new Guitar player, Craig Goldy.
In my personnal opinion Craig Goldy did a really good job on this album. Despite the discontent within the band ( certain people in the band didn’t like Craig Goldy or didn’t think he was able to replace Vivian Campbell).
Craig Goldy had great shoes to fill due to the departure of Vivian Campbell, who played such greatly guitar and was very instrumental in these three first DIO albums.
If one thing is sure is that Ronnie really appreciated the work made by Craig Goldy when he was in the band.
He brought him back for the « Magical album » in 2000 and then of course he played for the last DIO album « Master of the Moon ».
Now one thing that really had impressed me about « Dream Evil » is the awesome cover. The imagery of the cover portrays perfectly the demonic and evil atmosphere.
First of all you have the mascott Dio Murray standing behind the window over the sleeping child and then beneath the bed of the child you have all those serpents, tentacles as well as creepy crawly spiders.
Murray is the mascott of the Dio band. It appears on the majority of the band albums covers.
Murray Dio is mysterious being with a demonic appearance. Inspired from Satan, Murray denotes from other Metal mascots by its neutral expression.
Unlike other metal band mascot, Murray is not showing off Rock n’Roll behavior like riding motorcycles or smoking cigars and drinking. Murray Dio is simply there watching you without any emotions. Murray has nothing human and that’s what makes it scary.
This cover gathers all the iconic and powerfull symbole from the evil imagery while combining it perfectly with the visual universe of the group.
This cover is reminiscent of the Black Sabbath « Live Evil » cover, with all that sinister imagery going on.
This « Dream Evil » album is very top Heavy.
The singles that make up the first half of the album are particularly memorable. The greatest tracks of this album are the first three : « Night People », « Dream Evil » and « Sunset Superman » are by far my favorite ones.
So overall this album is a solid album that every DIO fan should have in their collection.
Lock up the Wolves
Then came out « Lock up the Wolves » in 1990. Dio had a different Guitar player on this album who has a 18 years old young man named Rowan Roberstson who has increadible guitars skill.
The guitar playing on this album is fantastic so as the production. « Dream Evil » has some great tunes on it and the performance are really good as well but the production is kind of lacking in my personnal opinion.
« Lock up the Wolves » has a very rich sound to it and a warm tone. The guitar sound very full and rich and it’s just create a wonderfull mood.
In my opinion if I have to choose some highlights to this album, I think I would choose « Lock up the Wolves ». It’s an epic track, with great lyrics and my personnal favorite lines on the whole album « There is no backdoor to heaven, just a front door to hell ».
The vocal performance of Ronnie Dio are breath taking to.
During the touring of « Lock up the Wolves » Dio was contacted by Geezer Butler’s manager who was his wife at that time. Geezer Butler wanted to come at the show Dio was going to play in Minneapolis.
Geezer and Dio performed together that night. After the show Geezer made a proposition to Ronnie DIOand said that Tony Iommi really wanted to get back together with him. Dio was receptive and he accepted the proposition.
Ronnie James Dio : « At that point that Dio band was a difficult one for me. I didn’t like some the people in the band and I didn’t like what we were doing in the band. So this was the opportunity to do something I felt that we needed to do with Sabbath. We only did two albums in the studio and that live album. I thought we have so much more to offer ».
I guess that’s what we can call the second chapter of DIO and Black Sabbath history. The reunification of Dio and Black Sabbath offered us in 1992 the great album « Deshumanizer ».
The return with Black Sabbath and the release of Deshumanizer
This album is definetly the best 90S Black Sabbath’s album.
Musicaly this album was closer to what DIO was doing at that time. It’s sort of a mix between the band DIO music and Black Sabbath.
Deshumanizer has a lot in common with 90s Dio when the riff were slower and the whole things was heavier and more agressive. Deshumanizer is probably one of the heaviest Black Sabbath album.
The two adjectives that come in mind to describe « Deshumanizer » are Dark and Heavy.
« Computer God » is in my opinion the best song of this increadible album.
The reunification between Ronnie James Dio and Black Sabbath was short lived for disagreements about financal reasons.
Ronnie James Dio : « Once again it was how much money can we make and the hell with your feelings.»
Another one of the famous stories is that Ronnie James Dio refused to make the oppening for Ozzy for the Sabbath’s show that was going to take place in LA.
Ronnie wasn’t informed about that last minute change due to a lack of communication within the band so he refused to participate to this show.
After that chapter, Ronnie recreate his band DIO and released the album « Strange Highways » in January 1994.
This album can be considered as the continuation of « Deshumanizer ». You can sense the anger through out the vocals of Ronnie DIO. I feel this is the strongest DIO album since « Last in Line ».
Vinny Appice returned to the band with new guitar player Tracy G and Jeff Pilson on bass and keyboards.
« Strange Highways » is a very dark, heavy and awesome album. In my opinion this album is very underated. The eleven tracks of the album are consistantly good, every song is enjoyable.
When Dio contract with Warner Brother ended, they began a new deal with Mayhem and Mercury Record. At that time the context wasn’t positive.
Dio was less sucessfull, reviews weren’t as positive as before and they were having trouble making new fans.
So what did Dio do inspite of this ? They give us ANGRY MACHINES that’s what they did !
Angry Machines was released the 15th October 1996 in the US.
This album is as well very underated and is considered to be the weakest of DIO’s album by a large part of the communauty.
Again I’m talking about my personnal experience, « Angry Machines » was of the first metal album I’ve been listening to. It has a special place in my heart and I considered it to be one of the best DIO album.
« Lock up the Wolves » and « Strange Highways » are very consistent albums, they don’t have any « weak moment » but they’re lacking in really strong highs, specially « Stange Highways ».
By Highs I mean a classic DIO song.
Angry Machines have no weak track at all. In fact I find every song in Angry Machine great.
There is two interesting facts about this album :
The first one that you can really sense an intense anger in DIO’s voice, it remind me of what he did on « Deshumanizer » with Black Sabbath.
The other interesting fact is that this album is actually experimental, there is a lot of interesting moment in this album.
Everyone on this album did a fantactic job.
Then comes MAGICA released march 22th 2000.
This is the first concept album DIO has ever done and it brings back original bass player Jimmy Bain to the DIO band. The drummer Simon Wright is back as well.
Ronnie James Dio : « When it came time to do this new album, I knew the change was necessary. »
After ANGRY Machines DIO’s line-up fall apart with only Ronnie James Dio remaining.
The result line-up after this change was a huge step in the right direction. It actually ressemble to something close to the classic line-up ( without any disrespect to the line-up before that).
At the time of « Magica » DIO’s fans wanted to comeback at something like Holy Diver, they wanted to listen to storys.
Simon Wright was on Drums, Craig Goldy came back as the guitar player and Jimmy Bain was on bass.
« Magica » is an epic concept album. Most fan see Magica as a return to form and as the best Dio album of the decade.
Magica is an awesome and very consistent album. Writting a concept album is a challenge and DIO did an amazing job with this one.
Killing the Dragon
In 2002 DIO released « Killing the Dragon ». The band line-up has changed once again for this one.
Craig Goldy was out of the band, for this album Doug Aldrich took on guitar duties.
This album is generally less talked about and is lesser known.
« Killing the Dragon » does have good songs, good rifs and a good production. However this album has less marked the minds of fans than the previous ones.
This lead us to the final DIO album released in 2004 : « Master of the Moon ».
Master of the Moon
Master of the Moon is definitly a good album and it was also a good way to go out.
Like « Killing the Dragon » this album isn’t often talked about. I considered this album to be a very good and strong one.
Master of the Moon is memorable in many aspects. This album isn’t perfect and it’s not a masterpiece but it’s definetly a great way to go out.
Master of the Moon is very melodic and emphasize the emotional aspect of their music.
In my opinion the best song of the album is « The Eyes » closely followed by the eponym song « Master of the Moon ».
Master of the Moon may be the last DIO band album but it was not the end of Ronnie James Dio musical career.
Tenacious D record the song « Dio » as a tribute to Ronnie Dio on the first Tenacious D album.
Wendy Dio and many people tried to hide it to Ronnie, thinking the song would offend him.
When Ronnie finnaly heard it, he absolutly loved it.
Ronnie appear in their movie « Tenacious D in the Pick of Destiny ».
That’s how Dio became very close friend with Jack Black all the way to the end of his life.
Dio did have a great sense of humour. He saw what South Park did to him and he absolutly loved it.
Ronnie James Dio : “I initially didn’t want to let it be done because I felt that they were just going to crucify me [and] that I would end up being like what they did to Rod Stewart, and what they did to Elton John, and what they did to Ozzy. But they assured our office that they were real Dio fans and that I would like it. So I thought to myself, ‘Well, if you want to be an American icon, you better let them do it’. And they did, and I was knocked out. It was funny. I thought they were more cruel to the drummer, if anything else.”
Ronnie has said on several occasion that he wished to ended his career with either Rainbow or Black Sabbath.
Well he got his wish, cause he got to end his career with Black Sabbath.
In 2007 Black Sabbath released the DIO years.
Ronnie got involved and they wrote three songs. They went out on a tour that ended up being very sucessfull and then the logical step was, doing another album !
Suddenly the unspeakable happenned.
In 2009 Dio was diagnose with stomach cancer and went under treatment in the MDN cancer center in Huston, Texas.
Ronnie James Dio passed away the 16th May 2010.
The legacy left by Dio is invaluable, his impact on music is indisputable.
He made three undeniable classic with three different bands, he always refused to make music he didn’t felt in his soul.
Dio always took time to sign autograph and discuss with his fans by being gentle, warm and genuinely caring .
Thank you for everything Ronnie James Dio and Rock In Peace 🤘
To finish this article on a good note here is some interesting facts about Ronnie James Dio :
- Ronnie Dio had the same height as Wolfang Amadeus Mozart and Ennio Morricone the famous Italian composer (5,4 feet)
- DIO adopted this stage name from Johny Dio an American-Italian organized crime figure. The word « DIO » also mean « GOD » in Italian.
- Ronnie never touched drugs. “I saw how destructive it was, and how it dulled your sensibilities and ate up your talent and your life,” he revealed. “I was raised by great parents whose respect I never wanted to lose.”
- Hirohiko Araki the creator of the famous Manga serie « Jojo Bizarre Adventure » was a fan of Dio. He named the main antagonist of the serie DIO Brando as a reference to Ronnie James Dio and Marlon Brando. Later in the serie the character is only refered as DIO.
- During his childhood Ronnie James Dio was learning how to play trumpet. His father thaught him the instrument two hours everyday. His wife Wendy Dio told the media Loudwire : « He decided that he couldn’t pull girls playing the trumpet, so he taught himself how to play bass. »