Ronnie James Dio R.I.P.

19 05 2010

I’ve intended to write this blog since I heard the news on Sunday about Dio (one of my heroes) passing away from stomach cancer. I’ve put it off until today due to two factors-1) being utterly bummed out that I’ll never get to see him sing again and 2) (perhaps more sensibly) I had to get some deadlines out of the way.

I’m not going to retell Dio’s amazing life story here as you probably already know it (if you’re reading this and haven’t heard his work with Rainbow, Sabbath and indeed his solo stuff you should be ashamed of yourselves) but I will share with you a wee story about the day I became a Dio fan. I was roughly 8 or 9 and growing up in Newry in the late 80s. I wasn’t really like everyone else in my class who seemed to listen to Vanilla Ice and eat the rubbers off of their pencils for thrills. I loved Hammer Horror films, comics, action figures and anthemic, jaw droppingly good heavy metal.

I started out adoring Iron Maiden and Ozzy (while also picking through some of my parents old LP’s) but I wanted more. Being from a working class family meant my folks couldn’t afford all the albums I saw in Carlin Records and Sounds Good, so I did the next best thing-I got a library card, borrowed tapes and recorded them for my collection. Admittedly I ended up borrowing an absolute truck load  of absolute bollocks, but every now and again I got a gem and on this particular weekend I got ‘Holy Diver’ by Dio.

While I’d briefly heard the name, I hadn’t yet heard THE VOICE and chose the record purely on it’s cover (what 9 year old doesn ‘t love pictures of demons and priests getting their fuck knocked in?) and I took it home with me. As soon as the first verse of ‘Stand Up and Shout’ kicked in on my walkman I was utterly and irrevocably spellbound-immediately adding him to my unholy trinity of favourite warblers (Bruce Dickinson and Ozzy for those keeping score). I was so in love with ‘Holy Diver’ I listened to it every night after school for months. Instead of doing homework, I’d pop side 1 of the tape in and forget about the fact that myself and my brother were the only ones our age into this stuff.

As the years passed I got into other types of music, but Ronnie’s voice always did it for me. While Bruce and Ozzy let me down over the years, Dio never did and I will always love him for that. I finally got to see him live too and guess what? He played ‘Holy Diver’ in its entirity and his voice was as good as it ever was. Even better than that was how much passion he put into his performance, throwing the horns like the expert he was (hell, he did invent the gesture after all).

I’ll freely admit that I’m absolutely heart broken about the news Ronnie’s no longer with us. That’s how much this all means to me. But at least he’s left behind a huge legacy that proves he was one of the greatest of all time.

These days when I listen to my battered copy of ‘Holy Diver,’ I’m transported back to 1989 with the added bonus of not having to bother going to school. It’s a pretty good feeling I have to say and it’s as if the 12inch slab of wax is my own personal time machine. Yeah, I’m gutted I won’t get to see Dio do his thing fronting Heaven and Hell in Dublin on July 30 like originally planned, but I’m happy to see the great man remembered so fondly by the world in general.

Rest in Peace.

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