Monday, May 17, 2010

RONNIE JAMES DIO: 1942-2010

The world of metal music and the world at large lost its littlest giant this weekend, as nearly everyone already knows.

He saw what others only dream

When I was in high school, I pretty much lived on "Holy Diver" and "The Last in Line." Dio's music gelled so perfectly with my Dungeons & Dragons dreams and headbanging sensibilities, I could never get tired of listening to him sing of dragons, wizards, and rainbows in the dark. And I still can't listen to "I Speed at Night" in the car without running a serious risk of a speeding ticket. Can you? Can anyone?

Fashion sense: impeccable.

It's still incredible to me that such a huge voice was housed in such a diminutive frame.

Dio always struck me as kind of a Bizarro-World version of Ozzy. I love Ozzy-era Sabbath, but I'm not one of those who thinks that this is the ONLY Sabbath. Dio stepped into a near impossible position when he took that gig, and proceeded to help turn out one of the greatest metal albums of all time, Heaven and Hell. The follow up, Mob Rules, proved it was no fluke. (It's hard to choose a favorite track from that incarnation of Sabbath, but for some reason I was always partial to "Country Girl.") The parallels between the two men are obvious--both fronted the quintessential metal band, both went on to incredibly successful solo careers, and both were managed by their wives. But where Ozzy (Satan bless him) fell into self-parody and periodic incoherence, Dio always seemed the opposite to me--articulate, thoughtful, intelligent, never giving any indication that he wasn't completely together and comfortable with himself. According to all reports, he was the consummate gentleman, and one of the kindest men in music.

(Note: I'm not trying to start an Ozzy/Dio flame war. I love Ozzy--but you have to admit, Dio always seemed the more together of the two.)

THAC0 = 3

A brilliant showman whose stage shows were legendary (especially in the Sacred Heart days, when he slew the dragon every night), Dio was one of a kind, and will be greatly missed. His lyrics didn't always make sense--okay, maybe didn't even *often* make sense--but I think this was part of his aesthetic. Dio was all about the dream world, about fantasy, about magic. You can't apply logic to that.

"Ride the tiger
You can see his stripes but you know he's clean!
Oh don't you see what I mean?"

No, not really, Ronnie. But it still rocks.

A philanthropist very involved in children's causes, Dio seemed always ready to do for others. In a genre that's often the home of people it's hard to look up to, Dio was eminently admirable, a statesman and role model. He was very important to me, and to millions of people across the world. Rest well, you warrior, you poet, you king.

Evil or Divine?
I'm going with "yes."

RIP DIO

6 comments:

The Duke of DVD said...

Like the Vicar, Dio pretty much defined music for me during my teen years. His voice is and forever will be unparalleled. Everyone who likes or plays heavy metal music owes him allegiance.

I can think of no other fitting tribute to him than to compose a crappy haiku:

Demon-wing soarer,
Hell welcomes you back warmly.
Keep rockin', Ronnie.

Karswell said...

Yeah, it's been a suckass year for deaths. If DIO couldn't make it in 2010 how the Hell can the rest of us?!

TURN UP THE NIGHT.

:(

JP said...

Well done tribute Mr. Vicar.

Bob Andelman said...

Ronnie James Dio fans might also enjoy this lost interview with the singer from May 22, 1986 on Mr. Media Radio.

Nicole_Hadaway said...

I must confess that I'm not a Sabbath fan, but I do admire Dio for what was possibly the greatest contribution (aside from music) to Heavy Metal -- making the sign of the double horns with his hands.

According to legend, his grandmother was Italian and that's an old folklore gesture which is supposed to ward off the evil eye. Dio did it at a concert, and it took off from there.

You all know that everyone on the other side is making that symbol in spades now!

Magpie said...

That's one of the nicest tributes I've seen so far. Thank you

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