Jukebox:Metal remembers Dio

The staff at Jukebox:Metal would like to offer their own tributes to metal legend Ronnie James Dio following his death from stomach cancer on May 16.

Andy Lye, Editor - May 16
"Ronnie Dio is probably THE reason I like heavy music. I was probably heading that way anyway, but his was the first metal voice I ever heard that I genuinely loved. That was Wild Ones, Born On The Sun and Hey Angel on the Lock Up The Wolves album and that was the catalyst for my maturing, so to speak, from rock to metal. I spent months after that trying to find that album for a price I could afford, but at the time CDs hadn't really started making their way into sales much apart from the most popular stuff, online trading hadn't really taken off yet, and I couldn't afford the £17 price tag.

"It was a few years until I eventually did get that CD. But in the mean time, Magica came out, and the song Fever Dreams appeared on the cover-mount CD of Classic Rock Magazine. I played it non-stop, and for my 18th birthday my Dad drove to an independent record store a couple of towns away to find a copy, at £16. It was my first, and is still my favourite, Dio album. I missed my chance to see it live on the tour, but always thought I'd get to see most of it when he finished the sequel.

"It's now ten years later, and I'm playing Lock Up The Wolves, loud, on a day I really didn't see coming.

"I saw Ronnie live for the first time in 2002 on the tour for the Killing The Dragon album, and at the time there was no-one I wanted to see live more. I have seen him six times since, three more with Dio, three with Heaven And Hell, and last year I was fortunate enough to be in the photo pit at Gods of Metal in Italy and watched him sing my all-time favourite Black Sabbath song, I, from a few feet away, which is now something I won't ever forget. And I fully expected him to be stepping onto a stage in London soon. Maybe not at the High Voltage Festival this coming July as planned, that always seemed premature, but sometime soon.

"Many of Ronnie's albums remain amongst my favourites of all time. He is without a doubt the biggest loss to metal there has ever been. I would like to see him remembered the way he should be, with his music. There are countless live recordings that have never been officially released, at least two CD's worth of rare b-sides and bonus tracks that most fans have never heard, no doubt plenty of unreleased material intended for the next Dio album.

In the same way that Hendrix fans remember their hero best via the archive releases on the Dagger Records label (even if outsiders see this as shameless money-spinning by his family), I would like to see Dio fans get the same opportunity via Niji Entertainment. Ronnie Dio was always about his music and his fans, and that should always be the way he's remembered.

"Regardless of where I go in the music industry, I will always be his fan, more than anything else."

Brad Sanders, Reviewer - May 19
"My father grew up as somewhat of a metalhead, and when I was a 12-year-old headbanger, he'd regale me with stories of his experiences attending concerts in the '80s. The one he brought up the most, and the one that I was always most excited to hear about, was when he saw Dio on the Last in Line tour in 1984 at Hara Arena in Dayton. He spoke fondly of the Egyptian-themed stage set, and especially commended the great stage presence and strong voice of Ronnie James Dio.

"One of the first metal albums I ever bought was Holy Diver back in that first year of being a metalhead, and I was knocked down by the sheer power of Ronnie James Dio's voice. He didn't hit the high notes that Bruce Dickinson and Rob Halford reached for, and he didn't have quite the same foreboding dread in his voice that Ozzy Osbourne offered, but his voice was still somehow the most metal. The power that his songs packed seemed to define the genre better than anyone else's, at least to a young fan.

"Fast forward to 2007. I've been a metalhead for four years, and I've become familiar with most of Dio's work. In particular, I love the three records that he did with Black Sabbath. When the announcement comes that Dio Sabbath would be touring as Heaven and Hell, I buy my ticket the second it goes on sale. The show is in a huge arena - not unlike the show my dad saw in '84 - but I have a general admission floor ticket, and with it, every intention of being in the front row when the show rolls around.

"The day arrives. Machine Head and Megadeth open, and both are solid, but seeing Tony Iommi and Ronnie James Dio from spitting distance is what the night is really all about. They come out and perform a setlist spanning their three albums (as well as The Devil Cried and Shadow of the Wind from a then-forthcoming hits collection). They encore with Neon Knights and Dio catches a brassiere from an admirer, proceeding to march around stage with it, singing "Neon tits/Neon tits" for the last chorus. The easily 10,000 people in attendance were laughing right along with Dio, and he looked truly happy.

"That's why it comes as such a shock that we have lost him. I saw him again in 2008 when Heaven and Hell opened for Judas Priest, and his voice and disposition were just as strong as they had been a year before. And yet, two years later, he's gone.

"It's a disservice to his memory to linger on his death. Even though he's gone, I'll always have my dad's stories about that gig in '84. I'll always have the way I felt the first time I heard Stand Up and Shout blasting through my speakers in 2003. I'll have those two concerts where he sang circles around guys almost fifty years younger than him. Of course it's very sad that he's gone, but the fond memories are very nearly enough to make up for it."

Heather Lee, reviewer - May 24
"I was raised on Rock N' Roll and Heavy Metal, and I remember at some point in my childhood the first song I really heard and paid close attention to by Dio was The Last In Line. Dio was already a living legend, and there was a lot of buzz about him. So as everyone knows, this song starts with the slow intro, and I'm thinking to myself, this is the guy everyone is making such a fuss about, what's so great about this? Not that I thought it was bad, by any means, but not what I was expecting, until the line "We are coming – home", the song kicks in, and I nearly fell over, literally. I remember physically jumping back, and being blown away by the song and Dio's powerful, magical voice. In that instant, with one word, "home", I became a lifelong fan.

"The first time I saw Dio in concert was not until 1998, during the Inferno: Last in Live Tour, due mostly to me being too young for concerts, this was the first tour I was aware he had done since I had started going to shows. He was playing a club far from home, where I had never been, and knew my chances were slim to none that I could actually get there to see him, despite me constantly bugging my heavy metal dad, on a daily basis to take me to this show. The day of the concert, my dad comes home from work and asks me if I wanted to go see Dio that night, and off we went on our road trip! I was surprised that Dio was playing such a small place, and I could not believe how close I was to one of the greatest vocalists of all time.

"Dio signed my Holy Diver CD cover from the stage. I remember holding it up during the show for him to sign and he laughed, and motioned that he was busy at the moment, and I felt a bit embarrassed that I bothered him in the first place. Then sure enough between songs he comes down to me, and asks for the album so he could sign it for me. I could not believe it, and was floored by his kindness towards me. I was able to see Dio in concert on every tour he did since that day, Magica, Killing The Dragon, Master of The Moon, and Holy Diver in its entirety, and Dio managed to touch my soul each and every time. I also had the pleasure of seeing Heaven and Hell three times, all of them experiences I will never forget. There was always something personal about seeing Dio in concert, no matter if you were front row, or in the last seat of the venue, he knew how to reach his fans. He is one of those musicians I have always felt privileged to have met, even more so now. It was an honor meeting Dio, and one of the many memories of him that I will always cherish. He was so warm and easy to talk to.

"The day Dio died a piece of me died with him because he has always been such a big part of my life, for so long. I never thought this day would come. Dio has always been a hero, an idol, one of the good guys, and in my mind, immortal, and I just knew he would beat his illness. I mean he had to, right? Losing Dio was never an option, never even a thought, which is why it came as such a shock. It's been a little over a week, and honestly I still can't believe this is all real. The tiny man, with the giant voice, and a heart of gold, Ronnie James Dio is gone, but not forgotten. He will live on forever through his music and in the hearts of his fans. The magic we all felt is worth a lifetime.

Long Live Rock N' Roll, Long Live, Dio!"

Written by Jukebox:Metal Admin
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