In memoriam: Ronnie James Dio
Door op 17 mei 2010

Artiest: Ronnie James Dio
Band: Heaven & Hell
Genre: hardrock

De kleine man met de grote stem is niet meer. Op zondag 16 mei verloor de legendarische zanger Ronnie James Dio zijn gevecht tegen kanker. Vorig jaar werd Dio gediagnosticeerd met maagkanker en onderging daarvoor een chemokuur. De kuur leek aanvankelijk aan te slaan want in april 2010 bij de uitreiking van de prijs voor ‘beste zanger’ tijdens de Revolver Golden Gods Awards, was Dio nog van mening dat hij zou terugkeren op de bühne. Het mocht helaas niet zo zijn.

Dio werd 67 jaar geleden geboren in Portsmouth en werd als zanger wereldberoemd met Rainbow, Black Sabbath en zijn eigen band Dio. Hij beleefde zijn doorbraak met de band Elf en startte medio jaren zeventig samen met ex-Deep Purple gitarist Ritchie Blackmore Rainbow. Die band leverde klassiekers als Rising, On Stage en Long Live Rock n’ Roll af en inspireerde vele muzikanten om zelf een band te beginnen.

Na het vertrek van Ozzy Osbourne bij Black Sabbath zochten Iommi, Butler en Ward naar een vervanger en kwamen uit bij Dio. Die samenwerking leverde een tweetal wereldalbums op: Heaven And Hell en Mob Rules. Dio was inmiddels zo beroemd geworden dat de tijd rijp was voor een eigen band en begin jaren tachtig waagde hij de sprong. Holy Diver heette het meesterwerkje waarmee hij debuteerde. Daarna maakte hij nog vele albums met Dio maar het debuut bleef onovertroffen. Een paar jaar geleden besloot hij opnieuw toe te treden tot Black Sabbath die om rechtenkwesties verder moesten als Heaven & Hell.  De hernieuwde samenwerking leverde één album op: The Devil You Know dat in april 2009 werd uitgebracht. Deze zomer stond de band geboekt voor diverse festivals en concerten. Toen een paar weken geleden al die optreden werden geannuleerd zag menigeen de bui al hangen.

Het grote publiek kent Dio vooral van de hit Love Is All die werd geproduceerd door Roger Glover en van het liefdadigheidsproject Hear ‘n Aid waarvoor hij een keurkorps van zangers verzamelde. Dio wordt algemeen erkend als de beste zanger van het hardrockgenre. Hij had een bijzonder krachtige en volle stem waarmee hij miljoenen fans in verrukking bracht. Door collega musici wordt hij naast zijn vocale capaciteiten vooral geprezen om zijn vriendelijke en gemoedelijke karakter. Op internet regent het dan ook condoleance-berichten uit de hele wereld.

Dio leeft voort in de imposante muzikale erfenis die hij achterlaat. R. I. P.

Hieronder een paar berichten van collega muzikanten:

Ritchie Blackmore – “Ronnie had a unique and wonderful voice. He will be sadly missed in the rock and roll world.”

Lars Ulrich – “Dear Ronnie, I just got off stage in Zagreb. I was met with the news that you’ve passed on. I’m kind of in shock, but I wanted you to know that you were one of the main reasons I made it onto that stage to begin with.
When I first saw you in Elf, opening for Deep Purple in 1975, I was completely blown away by the power in your voice, your presence on stage, your confidence, and the ease with which you seemed to connect to 6,000 Danish people and one starry-eyed 11-year-old, most of whom were not familiar with Elf’s music. The following year, I was so psyched when I heard the results of you joining forces with my favourite guitar player. You guys sounded so right for each other and I instantly became Rainbow’s #1 fan in Denmark.
In the fall of 1976, when you played your first show in Copenhagen, I was literally in the front row and the couple of times we made eye contact you made me feel like the most important person in the world. The news that you guys were staying in town on your day off somehow embedded itself in my brain and I made the pilgrimage to the Plaza Hotel to see if I could somehow grab a picture, an autograph, a moment, anything. A few hours later you came out and were so kind and caring… pictures, autographs and a couple minutes of casual banter. I was on top of the world, inspired and ready for anything. Rainbow came to Copenhagen a couple more times over the next few years and each time you guys blew my mind, and for a good three years were my absolute favourite band on this planet.
Over the years I’ve been fortunate enough to run into you a half dozen times or so and each time you were as kind, caring and gracious as you were in 1976 outside the hotel.
When we finally got a chance to play together in Austria in 2007, even though I may not have let on, I was literally transformed back to that little snot-nosed kid who you met and inspired 31 years earlier and it was such a fucking honour and a dream come true to share a stage with you and the rest of the legends in Heaven & Hell.
A couple of weeks ago when I heard that you were not going to be able to make it to the Sonisphere shows that we would be sharing this June, I wanted to call you and let you know that I was thinking of you and wish you well, but I kind of pussied out, thinking the last thing you needed in your recovery was feeling obligated to take a phone call from a Danish drummer/fan boy. I wish I’d made that call.
We will miss you immensely on the dates, and we will be thinking of you with great admiration and affection during that run. It seemed so right to have you out on tour with the so-called ‘Big Four’ since you obviously were one of the main reasons that the four bands even exist.
Your ears will definitely be burning during those two weeks because all of us will be talking, reminiscing and sharing stories about how knowing you has made our lives that much better.
Ronnie, your voice impacted and empowered me, your music inspired and influenced me, and your kindness touched and moved me. Thank you.
Much love.”

Kiss – “We mourn the tragic passing of the great Ronnie James Dio. In addition to his powerhouse vocal ability, Ronnie was a true gentleman who always emanated great warmth and friendship to us and everyone around him. We will miss him.”

Judas Priest – “We are filled with great sadness at the terrible news about our friend Ronnie James Dio.
Our condolences and love go to Wendy and Ronnie’s family. Ronnie was a wonderful man and will be sorely missed.”

Slash – “His music will live for eternity.”

David Coverdale – “So very sad to hear of Ronnie’s passing… My thoughts, prayers and condolence to his family and friends.”

Scott Ian – “Rest in peace, Ronnie James Dio. Horns at half mast. Such a huge loss…
So many memories of Ronnie. Toured together many times. He always had a kind word and a smile and he LOVED the Yankees. In 2004 on the Dio/Anthrax tour I would get the Yankee score every inning for Ronnie while he was on stage. He was so into it. Saw Black Sabbath on the ‘Black & Blue’ tour (Black Sabbath and Blue Oyster Cult) at Madison Square Garden, in 1980. Ronnie was king of the world. Top three shows of all time.”

Twisted Sister – “The members of Twisted Sister, along with millions of metal fans around the world, mourn the death of our friend Ronnie James Dio. Ronnie not only was a giant in the worldwide metal scene, but he was also one of the nicest people you would ever want to meet. Beginning in 1983 when we first toured with Ronnie in Canada, and continuing over the last seven years when we played dozens of festivals around the world, Ronnie was one of the most supportive and gracious members of the music community.”

Glenn Hughes – “It is a very sad day today… I have lost a very dear friend.
Ronnie was a true leader of heavy metal… an icon and a visionary… There will never be another like him.
Ronnie gave me wisdom, and showed me great compassion when he was in Elf, all those years ago, when we were on tour together in my time in Deep Purple. He was a beautiful soul, kind, considerate and a wonderful teacher.
Some day I’ll be bringing your microphone up there with me, and we’ll sing a song, and share a Vindaloo together…
I’ll miss, you mate.”

Iron Maiden - “It is with huge sadness we hear that Ronnie has lost his battle against stomach cancer, and our heartfelt condolences go out to his wife Wendy and family at this terrible time.  From his earlier years in ELF, BLACK SABBATH and DIO, right through to his most recent days fronting HEAVEN & HELL, Ronnie, time and again, proved his genius as a frontman, always giving his all to his fans and his music.
Ronnie was not only an incredibly gifted singer but also a wonderfully warm, intelligent and generous person and this shone through both on and off stage leaving a positive mark on everyone he came into contact with. A longstanding friend of MAIDEN, we played many shows together over the years and we will all miss him greatly.
The world has lost an irreplaceable talent and, first and foremost, one of the finest human beings you could ever wish to meet.”

Ozzy Osbourne – “I was very saddened to hear of the passing of Ronnie James Dio. Metal has truly lost one of its greatest voices. My heart goes out to his family and to his many fans. Love and respect.”

Tony Iommi – “Yesterday 16th May my dear, dear friend Ronnie James Dio passed away at 7.45am L.A. time. I’ve been in total shock; I just can’t believe he’s gone. Ronnie was one of the nicest people you could ever meet. We had some fantastic times together. Ronnie loved what he did, making music and performing on stage. He loved his fans so much. He was a kind man and would put himself out to help others. I can honestly say it’s truly been an honor to play at his side for all these years. His music will live on forever. Our thoughts are with Wendy Dio [Ronnie's wife/manager] who stood by Ronnie until the end. He loved her very much. The man with the magic voice is a star amongst stars, a true professional. I’ll miss you so much, my dear friend.”