Although his trademark tales of 'dungeons and dragons' may have single handedly inspired Spinal Tap, Ronnie James Dio is unquestionably one of heavy metal's most talented and instantly identifiable vocalists.
Ronnie James Dio (born Ronald James Padavona; July 10, 1942) is an American heavy metal vocalist and songwriter. He has performed with Elf, Rainbow, Black Sabbath, Heaven & Hell, and his own band Dio. Other musical projects include the collective fundraiser Hear 'n Aid. He is widely hailed as one of the most powerful singers in heavy metal, renowned for his consistently powerful voice and for popularizing the "devil's horns" hand gesture in metal culture. He is currently collaborating on a project with former Black Sabbath bandmates Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler and Vinny Appice, under the moniker Heaven & Hell, whose first studio album, The Devil You Know, was released on April 28, 2009.
Ronnie James Dio was born Ronald James Padavona in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, an only child in an Italian family. They lived in Portsmouth until the family moved to Cortland, New York early in his life. His parents raised him in the Roman Catholic church, an experience he found unsatisfactory.Dio graduated from the Cortland City School in 1960, and was inducted to the Cortland City School Hall of Fame in 2004. He was also honored on November 15, 1988 by his hometown naming a street after him, Dio Way.
He initially played the trumpet and even recorded several singles with various rockabilly bands when he was a boy. When he was in high school, he joined a band called The Vegas Kings, in which he played the bass guitar. He eventually became the lead singer of this band, which changed its name to Ronnie and The Rumblers and finally to Ronnie And The Red Caps. Their first 7-inch single was released in 1958 on Reb Records under The name Ronnie and The Redcaps. It"s A-side, 'Lover' still had Billy de Wolfe on vocals but Dio's voice can be heard clearly in the back. The B-side, 'Conquest' is an instrumental in Ventures vein, featuring Dio on trumpet.
Ronnie took up the name "Dio" after mafia member Johnny Dio, and first used it professionally in 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 did several single releases during the following years until they changed their name again in 1967 to (Electric) Elves.
During a performance at the Darien Lake Performing Arts Center in Darien, NY (near Buffalo, NY) on September 19, 2007, Dio revealed that he had attended the University at Buffalo, majoring in pharmacy. University at Buffalo officials confirmed that he did attend from 1960-61 but did not graduate. He formed one of his early bands during his freshman year. He was also offered a scholarship to the Juilliard School of Music but did not pursue it due to his interest in rock music. Despite being known for his powerful singing voice, Dio claims never to have taken any vocal training. He attributes his singing ability to the correct breathing techniques he learned when playing the French horn as a child.
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 de Wolf, 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 de Wolf. Musci also left the band, and a new guitarist, Dick Botoff, joined. The Redcaps lineup released two singles: "Lover" b/w "Conquest" (with De Wolf on vocals on the A-side) on the Reb label, and on Seneca (S 178-102, USA), 'An Angel Is Missing' with 'What'd I Say' on the B side (both songs featuring Padavona on vocals).In 1961 they changed their name to Ronnie Dio and The Prophets. The Prophets lineup lasted for quite a long time and produced several singles and one album. Some sources state that some of the single releases were made by Ronnie James Dio solo, but others, such as Dio himself, state that all of the singles were made as a band.
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 went on to become an opening act for Deep Purple. Dio's vocals caught the ear of Deep Purple guitarist Ritchie Blackmore, and when Blackmore left the band, he recruited Dio and other members of Elf to form Rainbow. Rainbow released its first album in 1975. Dio recorded three more albums with Rainbow, but he left the band due to creative differences: Blackmore had wanted to take the band in a more commercial direction.
Dio performed vocals on the 1974 UK single "Love is All" taken from Roger Glover's concept album The Butterfly Ball and the Grasshopper's Feast. Dio also provided vocals for the songs "Homeward" and "Sitting in a Dream" on the album which also featured Deep Purple alumni Glenn Hughes and David Coverdale. Black Sabbath In 1979, after leaving Rainbow, Dio joined Black Sabbath, replacing Ozzy Osbourne. They released the successful Heaven and Hell album, which revitalized the band's career. It was during his time with Black Sabbath that he popularized the "devil's horns" gesture. Dio says that his grandmother used to make the hand gesture to ward off the evil eye, which is very common among superstitious Southern Italians. The "horns," or "Corna," themselves are used both to scare away and give someone the "Malocchio" (the Evil Eye). Ronnie James Dio is not the first to use the "horns sign". The band Coven used it on all their record albums and on stage as far well going back to 1968. The Parliament-Funkadelic also used the "horns sign" regularly, as seen in many promo shots, album art work and concerts in the 1970s. In 1992, Dio briefly returned to Black Sabbath to record Dehumanizer. The album was a minor hit, reaching the Top 40 in the United Kingdom, and #44 on the Billboard 200. In 1980, Dio sang the tracks "To Live For The King" and "Mask Of The Great Deceiver" on Kerry Livgren's solo album "Seeds of Change". Dio, who was between stints as singer for Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow and Black Sabbath, later proved somewhat controversial among Livgren's Christian fans, as Black Sabbath and Dio were then perceived as "satanic" by many Christians. Dio said in an interview that he did not consider the album to be a "Christian" album and had performed on it as a favor to Livgren. In 1982, the mixing of the live album Live Evil led to Dio and drummer Vinny Appice quitting the band to form the band Dio.
Dio (Band) - Origins and Holy Diver (1982–1984)
In 1982, disagreements originating over the mixing of Black Sabbath's Live Evil resulted in the departure of Ronnie James Dio and Vinny Appice from the band. Wanting to continue together as a band, the two formed Dio in October 1982 in the United States. The following May, the band released their debut album, Holy Diver. It featured two hit singles, "Rainbow in the Dark" and "Holy Diver", which gained popularity from MTV. Ronnie James Dio and Jimmy Bain played keyboards in the studio, but recruited keyboardist Claude Schnell for live shows in 1984. Dio had this to say of the band's origins:
"It was a good time to be in that band. It was perfect for us. Everything just fell into place. The ethic in rehearsal was amazing. The effort in the recording was just as good. Everybody wanted it to be great. We really believed in what we were doing and couldn't wait to get that product out and have people hear it." The Last in Line to Dream Evil (1984–1989) Now a quintet with Claude Schnell on keyboards, the band released their second studio album, The Last in Line, on July 2, 1984. It was followed by their third album, Sacred Heart, which was released on August 15, 1985. In 1985 Ronnie James Dio also wrote the song "Stars" for the Hear 'n Aid project, with Vivian Campbell contributing on guitar. Campbell became unhappy with the direction of the band and in 1987 was invited to join Whitesnake. Several songs were recorded live during the Sacred Heart tour for the 1986 Intermission EP with Campbell still on guitar, however the EP also contained the studio track "Time To Burn". which served to introduce fans to Craig Goldy as the new guitarist. On July 21, 1987 their fourth album Dream Evil was released. After Dream Evil, Goldy, wanting to pursue solo projects, left the band. In June 1989 18 year-old Rowan Robertson was announced as Goldy's successor but further changes were to follow, with Schnell, Bain, and Appice leaving the band. Changes (1990–1999) Schnell, Bain, and Appice were replaced, respectively, with Teddy Cook, Jens Johansson, and former AC/DC drummer Simon Wright. The new band released the album Lock up the Wolves in the spring of 1990. During the tour, Ronnie James Dio had a chance meeting with former Black Sabbath bandmate Geezer Butler which led to that band's short-lived reunion, producing one album, Dehumanizer. After this Ronnie James Dio reassembled Dio once again, retaining only Appice on the drums. By late 1994 guitarist Tracy G, keyboardist Scott Warren of Warrant and bassist Jeff Pilson had all joined. During this era, the band abandoned fantasy themed songs and focused on modern issues. As a result some fans regard the albums made during this period—1994's Strange Highways, 1996's Angry Machines and the live album Inferno - Last in Live--as the worst in Dio's catalogue, while others view them positively as a step away from the outdated sound of the 1980s. With disappointing record sales for Angry Machines management wanted the band to go back to their earlier style prompting the departure of Tracy G to be replaced by the returning Craig Goldy.
Craig Goldy's return facilitated the release of Dio's eighth studio album in 2000, Magica, which was regarded by many as the band's "comeback album" and reached #13 on the Billboard independent charts. It featured the return not only of Goldy but of Simon Wright and Jimmy Bain, although on the European tour Chuck Garric played bass. A concept album, Magica features a return to the band's older, more successful sound, while increased use of keyboards gives it a modern feel. During the following tour, however, tensions rose between Goldy on the one hand and Bain and Ronnie James Dio on the other, as Goldy was dealing with the obligations of a family. Goldy left the band in January 2002 and was replaced with Doug Aldrich, whom Bain had met while recording a tribute album for Metallica. Because of his late arrival, Aldrich did not contribute much to Dio's ninth work, Killing the Dragon, which was written primarily by Ronnie James Dio and Bain. Killing The Dragon was released in 2002 through Spitfire Records and was well received in the metal community, making the Billboard top 200. Aldrich would stay in the band until April of the following year, when he, like Campbell before him, joined Whitesnake, prompting Goldy's return. Soon afterwards, Bain left the band.
Master of the Moon and hiatus (2004–present) Dio released their tenth studio album, Master of the Moon on August 30, 2004 in Europe through SPV Records and on September 7, 2004 in the United States through Sanctuary Records. The album features multi-instrumentalist Jeff Pilson (formerly of Dokken) on bass duties; however, because of prior obligations with Foreigner, he was only available for the recording sessions, and so was replaced by Rudy Sarzo. 2005 saw the release of the Dio live album Evil or Divine - Live In New York City, which featured the same show that was released on DVD in 2003. Dio has claimed he did not have much input on this release, as he had already left the label that released it. Dio toured South America, Japan, Europe, and Russia in 2005. Their autumn tour was titled "An Evening With Dio" and featured a regular set, and then a second set of the band playing his 1983 album Holy Diver in its entirety. The band was purportedly going to film a date from this show in Russia for future DVD release; however, the show on the DVD was actually filmed in London, England. The audio of this performance, a double CD named Holy Diver - Live was released in April 2006. In 2007, it was announced that Black Sabbath would reunite with Ronnie James Dio and go under the name Heaven and Hell. Recent Press releases which cite Black Sabbath/Heaven and Hell bassist Geezer Butler as a source, suggest that Heaven and Hell are in talks with various record labels regarding a new full Studio Album for 2009. Dio has said of the upcoming Heaven and Hell album:
"It sounds great. It's a real cross-section of everything we've done, from Heaven and Hell through Mob Rules and Dehumanizer. I think there's a lot of Dehumanizer in it, but a lot of other things, too, a real good blend of what this band has represented.."
Ronnie James Dio's involvement with Heaven and Hell has delayed the recording of what was to be the follow-up to Master of the Moon, Magica II. The three year hiatus was briefly interrupted for a 10 concert European mini-tour in May/June 2008, and was scheduled to be interrupted again in November/December 2009 with 22 concerts starting in the UK and ending in Germany. Doug Aldrich will fill in for Craig Goldy on guitar on these dates, who has other obligations. Dio intend to release a new single, entitled "Electra", to coincide with the tour. This will be their first studio material in 5 years. The band also intended to record an album or two in 2010.
On February 19, 2010, it was announced on Dio's official website that he would release a box set, entitled the Tournado Box Set, for limited purchase. The set includes the Killing the Dragon CD, Evil or Divine DVD (PAL format only), DVD bonus material, interviews, photo gallery, never-before-seen behind the scenes footage, promo video for the Killing the Dragon track "Push", exclusive Dio cards, and the bonus CD single "Elektra", from the yet to be released Magica II album.
On 25 November 2009, his wife/manager announced that Dio was diagnosed with stomach cancer:
"Ronnie has been diagnosed with the early stages of stomach cancer. We are starting treatment immediately at the Mayo Clinic. After he kills this dragon, Ronnie will be back on stage, where he belongs, doing what he loves best, performing for his fans. Long live rock and roll, long live Ronnie James Dio. Thanks to all the friends and fans from all over the world that have sent well wishes. This has really helped to keep his spirit up."
On 14 March 2010, Dio's wife and manager Wendy posted an online update on his condition:
"It has been Ronnie's 7th chemo, another cat scan and another endoscopy, and the results are good - the main tumour has shrunk considerably, and our visits to Houston (cancer clinic in Texas) are now every three weeks instead of every two weeks."
In 1999, an animated spoof of Dio appeared in an episode of South Park titled "Hooked on Monkey Phonics". The band appears performing "Holy Diver" at an elementary school dance. Although Ronnie James Dio's appearance is somewhat like himself in reality, the rest of the band just appears as a "stereotypical" heavy metal band with no reference to the real band members.
The song "Holy Diver" is on the video games Guitar Hero Encore: Rocks the 80s and Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories.
In 1997, Dio made a cameo on Pat Boone's In a Metal Mood, an album of famous heavy metal songs played in Big Band style. Dio can be heard singing backup on Boone's take of the Dio song, "Holy Diver".
In 2000, Century Media released Holy Dio: Tribute to Ronnie James Dio, an album featuring a number of covers by mainly power metal bands.
In 2006, Dio appeared in Tenacious D in The Pick of Destiny playing himself. He plays a small role at the beginning of the movie, where Lil' JB, played by Troy Gentile, is angry because his father, played by Meat Loaf, won't let him play rock because he thinks it's the devil's music. Lil' JB then prays to a poster of Dio to help him out. Dio comes to life and urges him in song to "leave his oppressive neighborhood" and head to Hollywood.
***This video is rated R for language. If you are at work, turn down the volume or use earbuds***
Tenacious D has written a tribute song entitled "Dio" that appears on their self-titled album that calls for the singer to "pass the torch" on to them. Reportedly, Dio approved of it, and had Tenacious D appear in his video "Push". He has also appeared in the film Tenacious D in The Pick of Destiny, playing himself. However, on VH1, some have interpreted small clips of an interview with him as expressing resentment at the idea that he needs to "pass the torch" and seemed uncertain that Tenacious D is worthy of such an honor. When viewed in full, this interview is clearly done in good humor. In 2005, Dio was revealed to be the voice behind Dr. X in Operation: Mindcrime II, the sequel to Queensrÿche's seminal concept album Operation: Mindcrime. His part was shown in a prerecorded video on the subsequent tour, and Ronnie appeared onstage to sing the part live on at least one occasion (both shown on the Mindcrime at the Moore DVD). During September 2005 Dio toured Siberia and Russia's far east, kicking off in Khabarovsk. On January 17, 2007, he was inducted into the Rock Walk of Fame at Guitar Center on Hollywood's Sunset Boulevard. Personal Life Dio married his first wife, Loretta Berardi (born 1941), sometime in the 1960s. They adopted one son, Dan Padavona (born July 1968), who works as a meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Binghamton, New York.
After divorcing Berardi, he married Wendy Galaxiola (born 1947), who also serves as his manager. In the 1980s she managed the Los Angeles rock bands Rough Cutt and Hellion. She is the chair of the privately sponsored organization, Children of the Night, dedicated to rescuing America's children from prostitution. He currently has two grandchildren, Joey and Angela. He resides in Los Angeles.
*this biography was pieced together from Wikipedia
RONNIE JAMES DIO (1942-2010)
Ronnie James Dio, Rock Vocalist, Dies at 67
Ronnie James Dio, a singer with the heavy-metal bands Rainbow, Black Sabbath and Dio, whose powerful, semioperatic vocal style and attachment to demonic imagery made him a mainstay of the genre, died on Sunday in Los Angeles. He was 67. His death was announced by his wife, Wendy, on his Web site, www.ronniejamesdio.com.
No cause was given, but in recent months Mr. Dio had spoken about suffering from stomach cancer, and his band Heaven and Hell canceled its summer tour because of his health.
A heavy-metal purist, Mr. Dio was known as much for his vocal prowess as for his Mephistophelean stage persona. He sang about devils, defiance and the glory of rock ’n’ roll with a strong, mean voice that rose to a bombastic vibrato, and he is credited with popularizing the “devil horn” hand gesture — index and pinky fingers up, everything else clenched in a fist — as a symbol of metal’s occult-like worship of everything scary and heavy.
Ronald James Padavona was born in Portsmouth, N.H., and grew up in Cortland, N.Y. He took his stage name in tribute to the gangster Johnny Dio, and he began his career in rockabilly bands in the late 1950s. By the early 1970s his group Elf became a regular opening act for the British band Deep Purple, and Mr. Dio gained his first wide exposure when Ritchie Blackmore, Deep Purple’s guitarist, recruited him in 1975 to sing for his new band, Rainbow.
When Ozzy Osbourne was fired from Black Sabbath in 1979, Mr. Dio replaced him, staying until 1982. By then he had his own group, Dio. Its first album, “Holy Diver,” was released in 1983, and its cover art was typical of the band’s style, with a cartoonish painting of a red-eyed demon whipping a drowning priest with a chain. In various lineup configurations, Dio released material into the mid-2000s.
Mr. Dio briefly rejoined Black Sabbath in the early 1990s, singing on its 1992 album “Dehumanizer,” and in 2006 he began playing again with members of that band, naming the group Heaven and Hell after the title of the first Black Sabbath album on which he had appeared. Heaven and Hell toured widely and released one album, “The Devil You Know,” in 2009.
Other than his wife, who was also his manager, he is survived by his son, Daniel, his father, Pat Padavona, and two grandchildren.
Over the years Mr. Dio became a symbol of the glories and the silliness of metal, and sometimes both at the same time. In the 2006 film “Tenacious D in the Pick of Destiny,” a boy whose father has forbidden him to play metal prays in his bedroom to a poster of Mr. Dio sitting on a hellish throne; Mr. Dio, holding a medieval-style goblet, comes to life and urges the boy to forge his own way.
“You will face your inner demons,” Mr. Dio sings. “Now go, my son, and rock.”
By BEN SISARIO
Published: May 16, 2010
Taken from NYTimes.com