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Ronnie James Dio

Ronnie James DioAKA Ronald James Padovana

Born: 10-Jul-1942
Birthplace: Portsmouth, NH
Died: 16-May-2010
Location of death: Houston, TX
Cause of death: Cancer - Stomach
Remains: Buried, Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery, Hollywood Hills, CA

Gender: Male
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Singer

Nationality: United States
Executive summary: Black Sabbath and Dio

Ronald James Padavona was spawned out of the eternal darkness into the coastal city of Portsmouth, a first-generation American from a family of Italian immigrants. Early in his life his parents relocated to Cortland, a rural town in New York, and it was here that Padavona began his musical activity, honing his skills on the trumpet and performing in his high school jazz band. The clean-cut, snappy-dressing youth worked with three different acts during his high school years, taking up the bass guitar to perform with The Vegas Kings before joining The Rumblers and then The Redcaps. After graduation, he formed The Prophets -- reportedly adopting his modest stage name "Dio" (Italian for "God") around this time. The Prophets turned into The Electric Elves in 1967, which was soon shortened to The Elves and then finally Elf in the early 1970s. With Elf, Dio started to focus exclusively on his skills as a vocalist, working in the style of heavy blues that served as the starting point for many future metal performers.

Elf issued three albums during its lifetime: Elf (1972), L.A./59 (1974) (also titled Carolina County Ball), and Trying to Burn the Sun (1975). The year of its final effort, Dio and most of Elf were hijacked by former Deep Purple guitarist Ritchie Blackmore to serve as the basis for his new band Rainbow. With Rainbow, Dio adopted the format of dark fantasy lyric-writing that would continue throughout all of his subsequent projects -- exemplified by such songs as The Temple of the King and Man on the Silver Mountain on the the debut release Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow (1975). After this first record, all of the former Elves except for Dio himself were shed; the second album Rainbow Rising surfaced a year later, further developing the "fantasy metal" style initiated on the first. The live document On Stage (1977) and a third studio album Long Live Rock'n'Roll (1978) followed, but by this time the relationship between Blackmore and Dio had soured: Dio opposed the more commercial sound towards which Blackmore was attempting to steer the band, and by early 1979 he had severed his connection with the guitarist.

Dio's exit from Rainbow coincided with difficulties between a chemically-befuddled Ozzy Osbourne and his Black Sabbath bandmates, and an encounter with guitarist Tony Iommi in Los Angeles soon led to Dio being brought on board as the new Sabbath vocalist. With this new configuration (eventually also including drummer Vinny Appice) the band released two of its most successful albums, Heaven and Hell (1980) and Mob Rules (1981), rounded out with the first authorized Sabbath live album Live Evil (1982). The bombastic stage presentation of Dio-era Black Sabbath outlined an approach later elaborated upon by many NWOBHM bands, as well as providing ample fodder for the rock parody film/band Spinal Tap (1984). The old and new halves of the line-up never fully gelled, however, and increasing hostility between Dio and Iommi led to the vocalist moving on once again in 1982.

Enlisting drummer Appice and future Def Leppard guitarist Vivian Campbell, Dio created a project which was the culmination of the style he had been formulating since his days in Elf. The band Dio released its first effort Holy Diver in 1983, an album that quickly achieved platinum sales and established the quartet as one of the prominent stadium acts of the 80s. The arc of their popularity continued to rise with Last In Line (1984) and Sacred Heart (1985), at which time Dio assembled the Hear N' Aid benefit for famine relief in Africa, created after the pattern of the previous year's Band Aid benefit (but culling its participants from the metal rather than the pop music community). With 1987's Dream Evil the inevitable decline in popularity had begun, and by the release of Lock Up The Wolves at the close of the decade, Dio had completed its journey to the ass-end of music consumer trends. A brief renewal of the singer's association with Black Sabbath in 1992 (resulting in the album Dehumanizer) managed to raise both parties somewhat out of their respective career slumps, but a pair of dates booked as the support band for Ozzy Osbourne in 1993 brought about Dio's immediate departure.

Dio (the singer and the band) continued to remain active throughout the 90s and 00s, their status always remaining solid in the heavy metal community regardless of the inclination of mainstream tastes. A slight resurgence of the band's former popularity accompanied the 2000 concept album Magica, which marked the return of several members from earlier line-ups. The release of Killing the Dragon in 2002 coincided with Ronnie James Dio's 60th (!) birthday, and a 10th studio album -- Master of the Moon -- followed in 2004. In late 2009 Dio announced he was suffering from stomach cancer; he died the following May.

Wife: Loretta Berardi (div.)
Son: Danny (adopted)
Wife: Wendy Dio (manager)

    High School: Cortland High School, Cortland, NY (1960)

    Elf Vocalist (1971-75)
    Rainbow Vocalist (1975-79)
    Black Sabbath Vocalist (1979-82 and 1992-93)
    Dio Vocalist (1982-2010)

    Iron Maiden: Flight 666 (21-Apr-2009) · Himself
    Tenacious D: The Pick of Destiny (26-Oct-2006)
    Metal: A Headbanger's Journey (14-Sep-2005) · Himself
    Live Aid (13-Jul-1985) · Himself

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