The first time Dio graced my ears was in 1978 “Long Live Rock ‘N’ Roll” hooked in an instant. That song galvanized me, I knew right then my mission in life. I then followed Dio throughout his illustrious career.
Ronald James Padavona was born in Portsmouth, New Hampshire on July 10th 1942.
Dio’s musical career began in 1957 when several Cortland, New York musicians formed the band The Vegas Kings, which soon changed their name to Ronnie and the Rumblers. This band’s lineup had Padavona on the bass guitar, along with singer Billy DeWolfe, guitarist Nick Pantas, drummer Tom Rogers, and saxophone player Jack Musci.
In 1958, the band again changed their name, along with a few changes of personnel. The band was now known as Ronnie and the Redcaps. At this point, Padavona began singing, replacing DeWolfe. Musci also left the band, and a new guitarist, Dick Botoff, joined.
Padavona took up the name “Dio” after mafia member Johnny Dio, and first used it professionally at least by 1961, when he added it to the band’s second release on Seneca. Soon after that the band changed their name to Ronnie Dio and the Prophets. The group released several singles during the following years, until 1967.
Ronnie Dio and the Prophets disbanded in 1967, but he and Prophets guitarist Nick Pantas started a new band called the Electric Elves. They shortened their name to Elf in 1969, and eventually went on to become an opening act for Deep Purple while recording three albums.
Dio’s vocals caught the ear of Deep Purple guitarist Ritchie Blackmore, and when Blackmore left the band, he recruited Dio to Rainbow. Rainbow released its debut as Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow in 1975. Dio recorded two more classic albums (Rising and Long Live Rock ‘n’ Roll) and the live album On Stage with Rainbow, but he left the band due to creative differences: Blackmore had wanted to take the band in a more commercial/mainstream direction.
In 1979, after leaving Rainbow, Dio joined Black Sabbath, replacing Ozzy Osbourne. That line-up released the highly successful Heaven and Hell album in 1980, which revitalized the band’s career. They then went on to record Mob Rules with Vinny Appice on drums. Vinny replaced original Black Sabbath drummer Bill Ward during the tour for Heaven and Hell due to familial problems at the time,it may also be noted that Bill was not very happy with Ronnie’s sing style and temperment (evidence of this divisiveness can be found in the Tony Iommi autobiography Iron Man. The album proved less successful than its predecessor, but still a hit. In 1982, disagreements over the mixing of Live Evil led to Dio and Appice quitting the band to form the band Dio. In 1992, Dio briefly returned to Black Sabbath to record Dehumanizer.
Wanting to continue together as a band, Ronnie James Dio and Vinnie Appice formed Dio, the band, in 1982. On guitar played Vivian Campbell and on bass Jimmy Bain, the latter whom he had known since the old Rainbow days. Their debut album, Holy Diver, included the hit singles, “Rainbow in the Dark” and the title track, “Holy Diver”. As the band changed members over the years, Dio was the only original member. Except a few breaks, Dio, the band, was always touring or recording.
We lost Ronnie James Dio on May 16, 2010
Dio’s career spanned over half a century. During his stellar career , he received a number of distinctions and awards. He was inducted into the Cortland City Hall of Fame in 2004, and has a street named after him there called Dio Way. In his post-Elf band Rainbow, Ronnie wrote some of the first Power Metal lyrics. Classic Rock Magazine awarded Dio with the “Metal Guru Award” at their yearly “Roll Of Honour” awards ceremony in 2006. On January 17, 2007, Dio was inducted into Guitar Center’s Rock Walk of Fame in Hollywood, CA. Dio was named “Best Metal Singer” at the Revolver Golden Gods Awards in April 2010 for his work on The Devil You Know, making him the oldest recipient of this award at age 67. He accepted the award in person at what was to be his final public appearance, less than one month before his death. The main stage of Bloodstock Open Air is also named after him in tribute after Heaven & Hell pulled out upon his death. Also the main stage on Masters of Rock festival carries his name since summer 2010. A Dio monument has been unveiled in Kavarna, Bulgaria.
Rolling Stone magazine eulogized Dio with these words: “It wasn’t just his mighty pipes that made him Ronnie James Dio — it was his moral fervor…what always stood out was Dio’s raging compassion for the lost rock & roll children in his audience. Dio never pretended to be one of the kids — he sang as an adult assuring us that we weren’t alone in our suffering, and some day we might even be proud of conquering it”.
On July 10, 2011 in parallel to Ronnie Dio’s birthday in Cortland, NY was held a day-long event featuring many central New York local bands and talent for a benefit to the Stand Up and Shout Cancer foundation for cancer research and Dio Memorial concert. Part of the proceeds from the event went to fund a memorial music scholarship for the local city high-school in his name.
Thanks Ronnie, my life was changed because of you. \m/