Monday, May 17, 2010

Tributes to a giant...

(picture from MSNBC)

Tribute from The Dragon of M87:

I’m quite sad to hear that Ronnie James Dio has passed away due to stomach melanoma. My own personal connection to Dio’s art goes back to one of the first vinyl records that I ever purchased; that is, Mob Rules by Black Sabbath in late 1981. I soon followed up with purchases of Heaven And Hell and, later on, Live Evil (still to this day one of the best live metal albums ever produced). I was quite demoralized when Dio acrimoniously split with the remaining members of Black Sabbath after the Poplar Creek show in Hoffman Estates, Illinois, at the conclusion of the Mob Rules touring cycle (unfortunately, I was still a bit too young to attend).

I was a huge fan of the first two solo albums, but soon lost track of his output afterwards when I discovered the heavier forms of metal that dominate my listening habits to this day. I always did, however, keep an eye on what Dio was doing, and was ecstatic and then subsequently disappointed with the announcement and release of Dehumanizer (I have to say that I've never really liked that album).

When the Dio-fronted Black Sabbath reformed in recent years as Heaven And Hell, I finally had my chance to see Dio perform in concert not once, but twice, most recently on the Metal Masters Tour in August of 2008. I am glad that I was able to finally see the legendary vocalist in concert, and was distressed to learn of his terminal illness.

Dio always struck me as a very gracious person, and a good-hearted ambassador for metal. He was an articulate defender of and spokesperson for our art form, and he just seemed to be an all around good guy. Sam Dunn’s Metal: A Headbanger’s Journey, in particular, demonstrated what a genuine person Dio seemed to be, and reminded me in recent years of how important Dio has been to metal. He will be missed.

R.I.P. Ronald James Padavona

Although of really crappy quality, here's a brief clip of Heaven And Hell from deep in the rafters of the Forum in L.A. from a couple of years ago...

Tribute from Skull:

I went online early this afternoon to discover that a Heavy Metal icon has sadly fallen off the edge of the world. Ronnie James Dio’s incredibly powerful and unique voice will be sorely missed and his contributions to the young and ever growing metal world will always be valued and respected. Everyone who flashes “The Horns” will now (arguably) be doing so, even if oblivious, in tribute to Dio’s incorporation of his grandmother’s cultural hand gesture (editor: the band Coven were the first to use the symbol on stage, I think). Originally intended to ward off the evil eye, the gesture has evolved into a universal metal symbol of support and camaraderie.

As much as I enjoyed Dio’s work in Rainbow and his successful solo project, his biggest impressions upon me were his two initial releases with Black Sabbath (Heaven and Hell and Mob Rules) as Sharon Osbourne’s handpicked replacement for Ozzy. Dio broke Sabbath’s lead cast mold and helped send the band into new territory. These two mammoth records hit the scene in my early junior high years and are now seared into the soundtrack of my life. I even had a “Mob Rules” jersey (which was the popular style at the time) that I wore with great pride and on special occasions like dances, parties, and concerts. Both of those incredible albums are still in semi-frequent rotation with me now.

Regrettably, I never got to see Ronnie James Dio perform live early on, and I passed on the Heaven And Hell tour last year. With many of the aging metal idols still working, I guess I had better get on the ball. Who knows when I’ll pass on another last chance to catch a legend? Will it be Rob Halford, Lemmy, Geddy Lee, or even (shudder to think) Ozzy next? Metal is a growing and aging beast, and will, undoubtedly, lose more founding fathers in the years ahead. Those legends will surely be honored by more innovation and resilience in the art by future generations.

Although Ronnie James Dio has slipped away, he will be treasured, appreciated, and never forgotten.

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