Ronnie James Dio passed away yesterday morning.
The news of it hit me like a slap in the face. I’d just seen him in concert, touring with Heaven and Hell a few short months ago. He’d made an appearance at the Golden God Awards on April 8, looking frail–but one expects that from chemotherapy. I didn’t think he’d be dead a month later–only five months after being diagnosed with stomach cancer.
There was a summer tour planned, and if they made it back to the states after Europe, I’d planned to go again.
I’ve been playing his music all day…listening to a lot of the really old stuff, some written and recorded before I was born. What a voice this man had! The range, the power… And despite Ronnie James Dio playing a blues-based heavy metal (my favorite), it wasn’t the music that drew me toward him.
Ronnie James Dio was a quintessential story teller…and he enjoyed telling fantasy stories. Dragons and knights, good and evil, all featured prominently in his music. (And the stage sets…I remember a tour with a giant dragon who reared up from the back of the platform, hulking over the drum kit, spreading his wings as wide as the stage.) The most impressive part: the guys in the white hats don’t always triumph in his music.
He told the NJ Star Ledger in 2000, “I took on the evil perspective, because I’ve always written from the ‘anti’ perspective. Most people don’t think in those terms, so you are freer to create.”
He added, “Evil always exists, good doesn’t always triumph, and that’s the universal balance.”
As a storyteller, I like to remind myself of that every once in a while.
Rest in peace, Mr. Dio. You’ll be missed.