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A Legend Passes

This is a completely apolitical post.

Ronnie James Dio died of stomach cancer yesterday at the age of 67.

A legend in heavy metal and a man with one of the best and most well-known voices in rock music, he is widely attributed to have been the creator of the “devil horns” salute that is used by metal fans everywhere (his creating it may or not be true, but he most assuredly popularized it; in an interview, Dio claimed he lifted the gesture from his Italian grandmother, which is used in Italy to put a curse on someone, the “evil eye”).

I remember first listening to Dio when he was singing with Rainbow, the band formed by former Deep Purple guitar legend Ritchie Blackmore (their drummer at the time was the great Cozy Powell). They specialized in a lot of longer songs highlighting Blackmore’s virtuosity and lyrics by Dio that featured a swords-and-sorcery and witches-and-wizards motif. After a couple of years with Rainbow, Dio went on to be the singer with Black Sabbath after that band had fired Ozzy Osbourne. He helped reignite Sabbath’s career with a couple of killer albums, Heaven and Hell and The Mob Rules, which spawned the classic tunes “Heaven and Hell”, “Neon Knights”, and “The Mob Rules”. He left Sabbath (ironically being replaced by former Deep Purple singer Ian Gillan; it was due to creative conflicts between Gillan and Blackmore that caused the latter to leave the Purple and start Rainbow with Dio) and went on to form the band that took his last name, Dio. The classic Holy Diver was the first album released by Dio, containing the classics “Rainbow in the Dark” and “Holy Diver”. His position as a metal superstar solidified, he enjoyed a great career as a fan favorite full of sold-out shows. He even hooked up with former Sabbath bandmates Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler, and Vinnie Appice to form the group named after the first Dio-led Sabbath album, Heaven & Hell.

The guy had one of the best voices in metal, ranked up there with Rob Halford of Judas Priest, Bruce Dickinson of Iron Maiden, and Dave Draiman of Disturbed. Like the others, his voice was unmistakable. An inveterate showman, he used that vocal power, fantasy lyrics, and big shows to make his diminutive frame seem larger than life.

Rest in Peace.

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