Now is not the time to argue as to who did what better for Black Sabbath. Now is the time to acknowledge facts. Fact one: Ronnie James Dio revitalized a sagging Sabbath after Ozzy was fired with 1980's landmark album Heaven & Hell (which was recorded here in Miami at Criteria Recording Studios). Fact two: he popularized the "devil's horns" gesture that legions of metalheads have been wielding since the 1970s. Fact three: his operatic style of singing has been copied a thousand times over since he came into prominence with the band Rainbow with Deep Purple's Ritchie Blackmore.
Born Ronald James Padavona to Italian immigrants in 1942, he took up the Dio name after a popular Mafioso of the late '50s. Performing in bands professionally since his teens in the capacities of bass and trumpet playing, he became a singer with Ronnie and the Red Caps which lead to various singles issued and was followed by like-minded rock and roll acts like The Prophets, The Electric Elves and Elf before coming into the arena he's better known for with Rainbow.
This made him the most appropriate candidate, whether Sabbath purists agree or not, to replace Ozzy Osbourne when he was fired from the outfit. While the relationship with Sabbath did not last for very long (1979 - 1982, 1991 - 1992), his impact was established in the metal scene.
As a charismatic frontman he was able to turn his Sabbath fame into the highly successful outfit Dio with which he performed and recorded from 1982 until 1991 and then again from 1993 until 2009. His "coming-out-of-the-poster" bit in Tenacious D's film, Tenacious D in the Pick of Destiny is perhaps the only redeeming quality of the movie. Seriously.
In November of 2009 his wife/manager Wendy Dio announced that he had been diagnosed with stomach cancer and while frequent reports pointed towards him recuperating, he finally succumbed to the disease on Sunday, May 16 at 7:45 am.
From his official website:
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Today my heart is broken, Ronnie passed away at 7:45am 16th May. Many, many friends and family were able to say their private good-byes before he peacefully passed away. Ronnie knew how much he was loved by all. We so appreciate the love and support that you have all given us. Please give us a few days of privacy to deal with this terrible loss. Please know he loved you all and his music will live on forever.
- Wendy Dio
He is survived by his wife and children and by millions of loving fans. Regardless of who claims his soul, Dio leaves us with a legacy of over fifty years of music. Thanks man. Feel free to leave comments on his Facebook page.