Sunday, May 16th 2010 at approximately 7:45 a.m. heavy metal legend Ronnie James Dio passed away at the age of 67 from stomach cancer. For those unfamiliar with him, Dio was a legend in heavy metal. He's famous for "inventing" the now ubiquitous "devil horns" hand gesture (he didn't really come up with the gesture but was the first to use it in a metal context) but more importantly for having an absolutely amazing voice, performing some outstanding music and generally being inspirational and influential to metalheads around the world. Not to mention the fact that he was an extremely likable, friendly and down-to-earth guy.
Dio began his music career in the 1950's, singing in several different early rock 'n' roll bands. Here's an example of his early vocal talent: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kmbuHKuyDRc
By the time the 70's rolled around he had taken up an interest in harder-edged music, first joining the hard rock band Elf and then later singing for Rainbow, the hard rock/heavy metal band started in 1975 by Ritchie Blackmore after Blackmore left Deep Purple. Here's my favorite Rainbow song, featuring Dio's mighty voice: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SedQcg-65a8
Rainbow weren't exactly obscure, but Dio got more famous still when he was chosen to front the ailing Black Sabbath after Ozzy unceremoniously left the band. Here's just one example of how he was able to completely reinvigorate the band on his first album with them, 1980's Heaven and Hell
His short stint with Sabbath allowed him to launch a successful solo career. Here's his most famous (and arguably best) song: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QuVfrLh9Oz4
Dio (the band) lasted for quite a while, but legal trouble between Ozzy and other Black Sabbath members led the reincarnation of the Dio-era Sabbath lineup to tour and record under a new name, Heaven and Hell (after Dio's first album with Sabbath). The band was set to tour this summer but dates were canceled due to Dio's health. Here's a song from their only album, released just last year, which showcases just how powerful the man's voice was even into his late 60's: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QUs3i9oCs3U
He will be missed.